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Mental healthcare assistant jobs exist across the UK and can be found in both the public and private sectors. The job involves helping patients suffering from mental illness, often either in their recovery or long-term treatment. You will be providing care and encouragement to patients in order to improve their quality of life.
Working as a mental healthcare assistant, you could be specialising in specific areas, such as eating disorders, addiction or depression. You could also work exclusively with certain groups, such as children or the elderly. Working as a mental healthcare assistant is often as part of a team, and in a variety of settings, including hospitals, residential units and patient homes. Read on to learn more about mental healthcare assistant jobs, including required qualifications and career prospects.
Mental healthcare assistant jobs will involve many different duties. Your day-to-day activities are unlikely to ever be the same, and you may also be expected to work across a variety of different locations. Whilst your duties will depend on which speciality you work in, there are a number of overlapping tasks that most mental healthcare assistant jobs will feature, these include:
- Helping with patient assessment and delivery of care
- Building relationships with patients and listening to their needs
- Helping administer medicine and monitoring results
- Helping with de-escalation techniques
- Helping prepare and conduct individual/group therapy sessions
There are some qualification and experience requirements for mental healthcare assistant jobs. As this is an assistant-level position, you will likely not be required to have a nursing degree. However, if you wish to progress and become a qualified mental health nurse, you will need to have a degree and be registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).
Nursing degree apprenticeships are offered by some employers. Such roles will enable you to work part-time as a nursing degree apprentice whilst also studying at university. Most mental healthcare assistant employers will also be looking for candidates with certain personality characteristics, including:
- Non-judgemental approach and ability to show empathy with patients
- Excellent communication skills
- Good observational and assessment skills
- Pleasant personality with a natural willingness to help others
- Decision making and time and stress management
Mental healthcare assistant jobs offer great career prospects. As an assistant, you will be able to gain lots of valuable skills and experience. You will also be working closely with may other healthcare professionals which will give you valuable insight into many different types of roles. You may be given the chance to study to become a mental healthcare assistant whilst also working, which can be a fantastic and affordable way to enter the nursing sector.
As you progress in your career, you will be given the opportunity to specialise in a variety of different sectors, including studying for post-graduate qualifications. Other possible career routes include becoming a teacher, student nurse mentor or researcher. Mental healthcare assistant employers pay around £15,000 – £18,000. Once qualified, newly qualified nurses can expect a salary of around £24,000 to £30,000 with this rising with experience and additional qualifications.
There are numerous pros and cons to working as a mental healthcare assistant. Firstly, you will be able to gain valuable experience and skills that will help you develop professionally and personally. You may also be given the chance to gain your nursing qualification which will have a significant impact on your salary and career options. You will also be helping to make a real difference to many people’s lives and the opportunity to work with people from many different backgrounds.
However, starting salaries can be low for people working as a mental healthcare assistant. Furthermore, you will likely be very busy and be expected to deal with situations that can be quite stressful. Unsociable hours, including nights and weekends may also be part of the job, as well as the need to always be pleasant to patients and their families.