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Mental Health

Psychiatric Aid

Career data updated last on 10/6/2014
Psychiatric Aid Psychiatric aides, also known as mental health assistants or psychiatric nursing assistants, care for mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed individuals. They work under a team that may include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, and therapists. In addition to helping patients dress, bathe, groom, and eat, psychiatric aides socialize with them and lead them in educational and recreational activities. Psychiatric aides may play games such as cards with the patients, watch television with them, or participate in group activities, such as sports or field trips. They observe patients and report any physical or behavioral signs that might be important for the professional staff to know. They accompany patients to and from examinations and treatment. Because they have such close contact with patients, psychiatric aides can have a great deal of influence on their patients’ outlook and treatment.
Salary $12.90/hourly- $26,830 annually
Significant Points Most psychiatric aides currently work in hospitals, but the industries most likely to see growth will be residential facilities for people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and substance abuse problems. There is a long-term trend toward treating psychiatric patients outside of hospitals because it is more cost effective and allows patients to live more independent lives. Demand for psychiatric aides in residential facilities will rise in response to the increase in the number of older persons, many of whom will require mental health services.
Work Environment More than half of all psychiatric aides worked in hospitals, primarily in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals—although some also worked in the psychiatric units of general medical and surgical hospitals. Others are employed in state government agencies; residential mental retardation, mental health, and substance abuse facilities; individual and family services; and outpatient care centers. Most full-time aides work about 40 hours a week, but because patients need care 24 hours a day, some aides work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Many work part time.
High School Prep A high school diploma or equivalent is recommended. Courses in algebra, biology, sociology and psychology are helpful.
Academic Requirements These may vary according to occupation. In many cases, neither a high school diploma nor previous work experience is necessary for a job as a psychiatric aid. Aides are usually trained on the job. Some states require psychiatric aides to complete a formal training program.


Front Range Community College Larimer Campus
Certificate Degree Certificate
Pueblo Community College-Pueblo Campus
Certificate Degree Certificate

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