What Do Mental Health Professionals Do?

Mental health providers are experts who diagnose mental health conditions and provide treatment. Most have at least a master's degree or more advanced education, training, and credentials. It is important to make sure the professional you choose is licensed to provide mental health services. A mental health counselor evaluates and treats mental and emotional health disorders, relationship problems, and life challenges.

Through various methods of psychotherapy, counselors work with patients to develop significant behavioral changes. They also offer coping strategies for dealing with life's difficulties. Many professionals can help a person understand and recover from mental health conditions. Psychiatrists and other doctors can provide medication and psychotherapy, while psychologists and other mental health professionals can provide psychotherapy or counseling, but not medication.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD, DO) who specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of psychological and behavioral disorders. They may also prescribe medications to treat more serious conditions. Some mental health conditions that psychiatrists treat include PTSD, schizophrenia, and insomnia. Some psychiatrists choose to focus on a specific field; for example, a child psychiatrist helps children with learning problems, ADHD, or mood disorders. Although primary care doctors (PCP) and pediatricians are doctors (MD or DO), they don't specialize in mental health care.

However, they can prescribe medications for mental health. For example, your primary care doctor might prescribe medications while you're working with a counselor or therapist. Your PCP and a trained mental health professional should work together to develop the best treatment plan for you. Psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners have a master's degree, master's degree, or doctorate degree. These mental health experts provide evaluations, diagnoses, and therapy to their patients.

Depending on the state, they may also prescribe medications. Psychologists assess a person's mental health through interviews, psychological evaluations, and tests. The following mental health professionals have the training and qualifications needed to evaluate and diagnose mental health conditions and provide therapy: counselors can help couples with relationship difficulties that may be affecting their mental health. Working with one of these mental health professionals can lead not only to reduced symptoms but also to better ways of thinking, feeling and living. These professionals are not a substitute for mental health professionals in clinical care but they can be complementary. The NAMI helpline can provide information on how to find various mental health professionals and resources in your area.

Regardless of where you are on the mental health spectrum, everyone needs support to develop good mental fitness. In many ways, the types of mental health professionals reflect the mental health spectrum and range of needs. Primary care and mental health professionals should work together to determine the best treatment plan for each person. Psychiatric nurses can provide evaluation, diagnosis, and therapy for a variety of mental health conditions depending on their level of training and certification.

Psychiatrists, trained to evaluate and diagnose mental health disorders, can prescribe appropriate medications and monitor patients during treatment. Like primary care doctors, they can prescribe medications but you might consider visiting someone who specializes in mental health care. Some social workers specialize in providing mental health support while others offer more case management services. Through the Mental Health Equality and Addiction Equity Act, most insurance plans now have a federal obligation to cover mental health services in a similar way to how they cover medical services.

Jeanette Kunzler
Jeanette Kunzler

Typical pizza fanatic. Extreme travel maven. Devoted zombie scholar. Wannabe beer trailblazer. Infuriatingly humble web ninja.