Mental health issues are on the rise. Whether it is because our lives have become more complicated in today’s technologically advanced world, or if we are putting more pressure on ourselves to become the perfect person or if more people are coming forward to discuss their issues, maintaining mental health has become a key priority in our agendas. Are you someone who was interested in taking a psychology in school? Or did you witness someone close to you with a mental health issue and wanted to know what you can do to help? Or are you someone who is interested in how the mind works and what is being done to prevent mental health related incidents from happening? If so, then you are definitely someone who should consider a career as a mental health counselor. Students who wish to pursue a career as a mental health counselor definitely needs to pursue a formal undergraduate education. Depending on the requirements of your employer, some mental health counselors are required to have a master’s level degree because a bachelor degree program tends to be general in nature. Mental health counselors may work in hospitals or clinics as many of them have in-patient facilities. They may also work in the school system as a resource for students. Some may work for the government, providing mental health counseling in a community setting or they may have their own practice. Regardless of where you will work as a mental health counselor, here are the following qualities and traits which enables students to become successful mental health counselors: • Communication: A large part of a mental health counselor’s job is to talk to patients, to provide guidance based on the understanding of their patients’ needs. They are also required to document notes and suggested treatment for record keeping purposes. • Empathy: Until recently, mental health has not been accepted as a condition. As a result, patients who visit mental health counselors are often in a delicate state and their needs require particular attention. They are not necessarily looking for comfort, but they are looking for someone who understands their situation in order to help them through a rough stage in life and get better. • Technical knowledge: Mental health counselors require knowledge of the mind as well as counseling skills, both of which can be trained through university and continuing education. Depending on their area of practice, some mental health counselors are also trained psychologists or therapists and will be required to obtain a license in order to practice. • Intuition: When it comes to something as subjective as the human mind, mental health counselors are required to read between the lines as they interpret their patients’ words. Sometimes it is this intuition that can provide patients with preventative care before they harm themselves. • Patient assessment: Mental health counselors need to know how to assess a patient to recommend the right course of treatment or spot a concern before it becomes a huge issue. • Listening: Perhaps the most important skill for mental health counselors to have is listening. Most patients want to be heard above all else. They want their condition to be acknowledged sometimes more than they want to be treated. For more information on the career path of a mental health counselor or the educational requirements, please contact your high school counselor.