Mental health technicians are a vital part of the mental health care system, specializing in providing direct assistance to patients in a wide variety of ways. They assist patients with various tasks such as bathing, grooming, and feeding, as well as organizing activities and therapy sessions. Mental health technicians also observe patients, helping ensure that a calm setting is maintained and to gain insight into treatment options. They may also be tasked with duties such as administering medication, janitorial work, answering phones, and keeping records. Mental health technicians are generally supervised by nurses.
Applicants for mental health technician positions should be familiar with the mental health care environment and demonstrate a desire to help people. Mental health technicians should be able to work in a fast-paced environment, and they should be observant individuals who communicate well. The work is often physically demanding, and it generally involves eight- to 12-hour shifts constantly on the move, performing tasks. As with many jobs in the medical field, shifts can be long and irregular.
Mental health technicians often achieve certification, hold an associate's degree in mental health technology, or become certified nursing assistants. It is common for mental health technicians to start out as psychiatric aides. Experience in the mental health field strengthens employment prospects.
Mental Health Technician Tasks
Make observations and document patient treatment interventions, behavior and progress.
Dispense medications as directed by physician.
Organize, supervise and encourage patient participation in educational and recreational activities.
Assist mentally impaired patients with daily therapeutic and hygiene needs under direction of nursing and medical staff.
Participate in patient's treatment planning with other staff.