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Mental health job experiences;atlanta;community case mgmt?

by tom44 on May 30, 2014

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Question by unknown123: Mental health job experiences;atlanta;community case mgmt?
I hold a BS in psychology pursing my masters in Clinical Counseling. Have a few job offers for work as a “mental health paraprofessional/ACT” in Atlanta. Im interested in hearing about peoples experiences working in community mental health. hours? salary? clients? work envirnoments etc. I really want to hear from those who have done or are doing this kind of work. This would be a different kind of work for me, currenty I work for the state doing case management. plz be detailed thanks!
Thank you L_DOPA very insightful answer.

Best answer:

Answer by L_Dopa
I work for Georgia as a therapist for a state mental hospital. I have a masters in psychology, and I am a doctoral candidate of psychology (ABD status now). My job does not pay well at all, my hours are 8 to 5pm M-F, no on-call duty, and I have weekends and holidays off. The benefits are terrible; not what they used to be. The retirement isn’t worth it (you have to work for 34 years just to get 70%!). The work is often very difficult, dealing with patients with chronic psychotic disorders, and acute mood disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse… You name it, we see it. The hardest part about this work is not the patients and their problems, but rather the indifference of administration towards the needs of the staff, and a culture of “do the minimum” throughout the system. Many of the staff I have worked with had no business in the helping field, as they themselves were often heartless, even cruel. Unfortunately, that has not changed much: Administration still hires some of the worst employees I have ever worked with. They know nothing about teamwork, nor do they care. They are largely ignorant, selfish, and treat the patients as if they were the bad unwanted children of a much reviled neighbor… The “Boo Radley’s” of the world, to use a metaphore from “To Kill a Mockingbird”. In fact, Boo would have fared much better among strangers than many of our patients at the hands of our indifferent, ignorant staff. Of course, not all the staff are so bad. But it is a constant battle of “good” staff against “bad”: the good ones try to prevent and/or fix the damage done by the bad, every day. But things are changing.

The US Department of Justice has stepped in and is forcing the state to do what it is supposed to do in the first place: take good care of our mentally ill, and treat them with respect and dignity. Sounds like that shouldn’t be so hard to do in the helping profession; but you might be very surprised. For years, the culture within the mental hospitals reflected the attitudes of the community towards the mentally ill: “out of sight, out of mind”, and, “Not on my front lawn!” To put it simply, no one cared about the mentally ill. So, treatment of the mentally ill was a very low priority for this state, and many others, for many years. Well… not anymore!

So, you can take what I have told you and do what you like with it. I cannot guarantee you that you will enjoy your job; but, I can gurantee you that you will be challenged personally, as well as professionally. One really needs to have heart to do this work, and intestinal fortitude to stick it out and withstand the crap you will receive for simply doing your job, and doing it well.

By the way, we have an ACT team in my area (I cannot tell you where I am). From what I have heard, it suffers with the same or similar problems our hospital does with regards to the challenge of changing the culture.

Best of luck to you! Maybe we’ll run into each other some day at a conference. Take care!

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