A mental health professional is a healthcare provider or social services provider who offers services to improve a person's mental health or treat mental disorders. Psychiatrists are licensed doctors who have completed psychiatric training and can diagnose mental health conditions, prescribe and monitor medications, and provide therapy. Some psychiatrists have also received additional training in child and adolescent mental health, substance use disorders, or geriatric psychiatry. In addition to psychiatrists, there are many other professionals who can help people understand mental health conditions and recover from them.
Psychologists and other mental health professionals can provide psychotherapy or counseling, but not medication. Clinical mental health counselors are granted licenses by states or other national or regional certification boards after they have earned graduate degrees. Psychiatric and mental health nurses are also important members of the mental health team. They work with people with a wide variety of mental health problems, often at the time of greatest distress, usually in a hospital setting.
Clinical psychology is the application of psychology to problematic mental distress in a context of health and social care. Below is a list of the types of mental health treatment professionals to help you understand the differences between the services they provide:
PsychiatristsPsychiatrists are doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental illnesses using the biomedical approach to mental disorders, including the use of medications.
PsychologistsPsychologists are trained to assess a person's mental health through clinical interviews, psychological evaluations, and tests. Working with one of these mental health professionals can lead not only to a reduction in symptoms, but also to better ways of thinking, feeling and living.
Clinical Mental Health CounselorsClinical Mental Health Counselors are licensed by states or other national or regional certification boards after they have earned graduate degrees. They provide psychotherapy or counseling, but not medication.
Psychiatric and Mental Health NursesPsychiatric nurses or mental health nurses work with people with a wide variety of mental health problems, often at the time of greatest distress and usually in a hospital setting.
Clinical SupervisionQualified mental health professionals (QMHP) who operate within the scope of their practice under state law can function as clinical supervisors.
School leaders and mental health professionals will facilitate referrals to behavioral health providers in the community as needed. Most qualified mental health professionals will refer a patient or client to another professional if the specific type of treatment needed is outside their scope of practice.