The 6 most in-demand jobs in mental health

Are you passionate about mental health and wellbeing? You could turn your desire to help others into a fulfilling career, with lots of job opportunities and potential for growth.

As awareness of the importance of mental health grows, so too does demand for professionals working in the space, from psychologists to youth workers and more. 

Here are few of the highest-growth job opportunities in mental health – and some inspiring people who share their experiences in the field.

1. Psychology: healing minds

Psychology, the study of the human mind and behaviour, has very strong projected job growth over the next few years (Labour Market Insights).

There are lots of different directions you can take your career as a psychologist – from working directly with people to help them manage their mental health, to conducting important research, to working with organisations and more.

Alana's story

Registered clinical psychologist Alana Howells was drawn to psychology from an early age by her desire to help people. She returned study her masters at VU six years after becoming a psychologist to focus on psychodynamic therapy, and runs her own clinical practice Aurora Psychology.

I chose a career in psychology in Year 10 as I was interested in helping people and doing something truly meaningful. Personal experiences also inspired me to learn more about how the mind works, and to better understand people and their behaviour.

- Alana Howells, Master of Applied Psychology (Clinical Psychology).

What to study

To apply as a registered psychologist in Australia, you'll need a four-year degree such as the Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), followed by an approved masters program like the Master of Applied Psychology.

There are also other career paths within the psychology field you can explore, and lots of pathways to get there. 

Browse our psychology courses.

2. Youth work: guiding young people

If you want to make a real difference to the lives of at-risk or disadvantaged young people in your community, youth work is a great career with strong job growth (Labour Market Insights).

Luciano's story

Luciano Cornelius discovered his love for helping young people in camp guidance counselling roles during his travels and working in remote communities.

He studied youth work at VU and is now a teachers’ aide supporting kids with behavioural issues and disabilities. He benefited greatly from the hands-on nature of the courses.

During my course I did three placements and an interstate study tour – all these practical experiences gave me the confidence and skills to work with young people.

- Luciano Cornelius, Bachelor of Youth Work, Diploma of Youth Work CHC50413

What to study

Choosing a course like the Bachelor of Youth Work is a great way to develop the skills and knowledge you need for a career helping young people. 

You can also get started through TAFE with a Certificate IV in Youth Work CHC40421, and get qualified for roles in support services in as little as a year. 

Browse our youth work courses.

3. Social work: supporting individuals & the community

If you’d like to help resolve social problems and improve quality of life for people of all ages in your community, social work is another great career option with strong future growth projected (Labour Market Insights). 

Nicole's story

Nicole Jackson is a social worker at a not-for-profit, working with families under the child protection system, and finds it a rewarding and fulfilling career.

My role is to support people to make changes to prevent the children being placed in out of home care. I love my role because some families are so wanting support and to make changes. Seeing them grow as individuals and as a family is very rewarding.

- Nicole Jackson, Bachelor of Social Work

What to study

Courses like the Bachelor of Social Work will prepare you to dive into a career in community services, non-profits, government or hospital settings. 

Starting out with a TAFE course like the Certificate IV in Youth Work CHC40421 is a great way to start making a difference. It's a short path into work, and a great way to prepare for a bachelor degree.

Browse our social work courses.

4. Counselling: supporting people of all ages

Counselling is a great career if you want to help people to understand and overcome a range of issues including depression, grief and anxiety.

Counsellors help people to make healthy decisions, manage conflicts and develop interpersonal and communication skills or change unproductive thoughts and behaviours. As a profession, counselling has very strong projected growth (Labour Market Insights).

David's story

David Kwame Arthur decided to become a counsellor after years working in career recruitment, when he realised he wanted to have a greater impact on the community.

He is now a drug and alcohol forensic counsellor and assessor at Stepping up Consortium. He also started the Back on Track Initiative, engaging with at-risk and vulnerable young people through platforms such as music and sports.

I enjoyed working with people, but I really wanted to dedicate my career to helping others. So I approached VU and decided on postgraduate studies in counselling. I was fortunate to get a work placement at my old high school in a counselling role focusing on student wellbeing.

- David Kwame Arthur, Graduate Diploma in Counselling.

What to study

The Bachelor of Psychological Studies is a great way to build skills and knowledge in psychology and prepare for a career in counselling.

If you have a degree in another area, you could consider a course like the Graduate Diploma in Counselling to develop new skills.

Browse our counselling and psychology courses.

5. Nursing: the mind body connection

Nurses have great responsibility caring for our general health and wellbeing, and may choose to specialise in mental-health nursing in psychiatric hospitals or clinics. Nursing has very strong future growth projected in the next few years (Labour Market Insights).

Rachel's story

Rachel Nin undertook her nursing diploma with a course pathway into her nursing degree, focusing on mental health. She is an associate nursing manager in an acute psychiatric facility for adults.

It was the team environment of mental health nursing that I loved. That and the fact that you are the therapeutic tool. Here we are finding out what the patient’s goals are and working together to achieve those.

- Rachel Nin, Bachelor of Nursing, Diploma of Nursing HLT54121.

What to study

To become a registered nurse, you'll need to complete a Bachelor of Nursing. You can also start out with a Diploma of Nursing HLT54121 as a pathway in.

You can then further your nursing skills with a specialised qualification in mental health, such as the Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing.

Browse our nursing courses.

6. Paramedics: first-responding heroes

Paramedicine is a challenging and rewarding career, with very strong projected job growth (Labour Market Insights).

Paramedics regularly receive first-responder calls requiring them to treat people suffering immediate and long-term mental health conditions. As you become qualified, practical placements are crucial to become a confident and proficient paramedic.

Sarah's story

Sarah Maclure left her home town of Albury to follow her dream of becoming a paramedic. The hands-on training in her course helped prepare her to assist in saving lives in the attacks on Bourke St in 2017 when she was still a student.

I knew I was in a unique position to help and my scenario-based learning allowed me to assist in treating the injured. The incident has impacted me, but strengthened my resolve that I chose the right path. There is no feeling like helping patients in their time of need.

- Sarah Maclure, Bachelor of Paramedicine

What to study

The Bachelor of Paramedicine will give you the skills you need to start a rewarding career as a paramedic.

You can also get started through TAFE, such as with a Diploma of Emergency Health Care HLT51020, which allows you to work in supporting roles while you continue your studies. 

Browse our paramedicine courses.

Start your mental health career with VU

Browse our courses across Arts and Humanities and Health and Biomedicine and get started on a rewarding career in mental health.

At VU, our courses are designed with the industry in mind, with practical learning opportunities to make sure you're job-ready when you graduate.

To find out more or discover your own pathway to success, get in touch with our career and course advisers on  +61 3 9919 6100  or request a call back.

And check out these 7 ways you can look after your own mental health while studying.

Looking for mental health support?

If you’re experiencing difficulties please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14  or visit beyondblue.

If you are a VU student, you can get in touch with our counselling services.