Working closely with a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, therapists and social workers, mental health orderlies help care for individuals who are emotionally or mentally impaired. A mental health orderly’s primary responsibilities include ensuring the comfort, safety and general well being of patients in hospitals and mental health facilities.

Opportunities for specialization in mental health orderly careers include working with children, the elderly, or individuals recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Launching a mental health orderly career can begin by enrolling in an associate’s degree in applied psychology program.

Job Outlook for Occupational Therapy Assistants

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that psychiatric aide and orderly jobs are expected to grow steadily in coming years, and job opportunities should be excellent. Employment will rise as a result of the growing elderly population’s need for more mental health services. In addition, increasing numbers of developmentally-disabled adults will need professional care as their elderly parents become unable to provide at-home care.

Job Duties

Mental health orderlies perform a variety of tasks to advance a patient’s comfort, safety and mobility. Typical daily duties include helping patients bathe, dress and move about a facility for exercise, therapy or tests. They may assist patients with eating and drinking, as well encouraging independence. These mental health professionals have a high level of contact with patients.

When working in psychiatric or mental health wards, orderlies are often responsible for keeping all patients safe by controlling the occasional violent behavior patients may exhibit. An additional requirement of this occupation is monitoring and communicating changes in a patient’s condition to doctors, psychiatrists and facility management.

Mental health orderlies usually work in health care settings, such as hospitals, mental health facilities, residential treatment centers and nursing care facilities. Physical activity, standing and walking are typical mental health orderly job activities. Most full-time orderlies work 40 hours per week. In the 24-hour healthcare industry, weekend, evening and holiday hours may be required. Part-time mental health orderly positions are typically available.

Potential Salary

According to the BLS, the average annual income for psychiatric aides and orderlies was $27,430 in May 2009. The middle 50% earned between $20,020 and $21,810. Salaries for the lowest 10% were around $16,910, while the highest 10% brought in approximately $41,540. Recent associate’s degree program graduates will typically start out at the lower end of the scale and move up in salary with experience.

Education and Training for Mental Health Orderlies

While specific academic requirements vary by employer and location, many mental health orderly positions require a high school diploma and additional education, training or certification. Employers often look favorably on applicants with associate’s degrees.

A mental health orderly career can begin with an associate’s degree in applied psychology. Coursework typically includes introduction to psychology, human behavior perspective, and psychology of adjustment and personal growth, and group behavior.

Employers can be confident that graduates of an associate’s degree in applied psychology program are able to:

  • Value the complexity of international diversity.
  • Characterize various psychological and interdisciplinary theories of human behavior.
  • Identify and develop solutions to problems in today’s organizations.
  • Recognize the value of ethical behavior.
  • Leverage advanced skills and knowledge to succeed as a mental health orderly.

Some employers offer opportunities for continuing education. It’s possible to enter the field with an associate’s degree and use a tuition assistance program to pay for a bachelor’s degree.

Your Path to a Mental Health Orderly Career

If you are a patient and emotionally stable individual, with good communication and team skills, you might consider a career as a mental health orderly. This occupation requires good physical and emotional health, flexibility and strong problem-solving skills. If this sounds like you, your skills may be perfectly suited to a rewarding mental health orderly career.

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