Work is a significant part of the lives we lead. It is something that we do for much of the day, almost every day, for decades of our existence—so choosing the right career can have a substantial impact on our mental health and overall well-being.
A career that is not compatible with your mental health can lead to increased stress, anxiety, burnout, and feelings of cognitive and emotional dissonance. When you are spending hours working in a job you don't like, dissatisfaction, frustration, and negativity about work can arise, potentially leading to a lack of motivation or poor performance—and ultimately putting your financial security at risk.
Alternatively, working in a career that is compatible with your strengths, interests, personality, and values can contribute positively to your mental health. It’s easier to maintain a work-life balance, job satisfaction is higher because you’re more likely to feel a sense of accomplishment, and connecting with like-minded colleagues increases a sense of social support. These are important factors for feeling a sense of purpose, belonging, and financial stability—all of which contribute to better mental health.
Maybe you already have an idea of the types of careers that appeal to you and would support your mental health—or maybe you’re completely lost and don’t know where to start. In either case, career assessments can help.
The Benefits of Career Assessments
Career assessments are tools backed by research that help you identify (or even just refine) how your unique needs align with compatible careers. Some of their main benefits are:
They help you determine your strengths and interests. Recognizing your strengths and interests can help you choose a career that supports your natural talents and passions. When you work in a field that uses your strengths and interests well, you are more likely to feel engaged and fulfilled.
They match your personality to suitable careers. Different careers require different personality traits. For example, some people might thrive in careers with more social interaction, while others might prefer to work more independently. When you work in a career that aligns with your personality, you are more likely to enjoy your work.
They support you in examining your values. Values are the beliefs and principles that can impact our decision-making and behavior. When you work in a career that aligns with your values, you are more likely to feel a sense of purpose and meaning in your work.
Types of Career Assessments
There are many different types of career assessments available, with each assessment designed to measure different aspects of what makes you … you (and thus giving you insight into how different careers would support your mental health). Check out these career assessment options to get an idea of what's out there:
Career Key is an organization founded by a counseling psychologist that provides career assessments designed to help individuals–especially students and those wanting to make a career transition–identify potential career paths based on interests, personality, and values. Find out more here.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a well-known personality inventory that evaluates an individual's personality based on four dichotomies (Introversion/Extroversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perceiving) and results in a four-letter code that represents your personality type.
The Holland Codes (RIASEC) is an assessment based on the theory that individuals have unique personality types (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional) that are suited to specific types of careers.
Turn Knowledge Into Action
Now that you know how important it is to work in a career that supports your mental health and have explored career assessments to help narrow your scope, how can you turn your newfound knowledge into some action?
Talk to a therapist. As you now know from reading this post, the effect that your work life has on your mental health cannot be overstated.
If you’re struggling with unemployment, feeling lost with your direction in life, or simply need someone to help you make meaning out of your career assessment results, reach out to Her Time Therapy to schedule a free consultation with a therapist that can help you find a career that supports your mental health.
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Her Time Therapy, LLC is an integrative group counseling practice based in Denver, Colorado comprised of highly trained mental health therapists who specialize in providing convenient and empowering online mental health counseling for women in Colorado.
About the Author
Lauren Veazey, MA, is a graduate student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Intake Coordinator for Her Time Therapy, LLC, a group therapy practice specializing in teletherapy for women. As a therapist in training under the supervision of Her Time Therapy founder Meagan Clark, she believes in the healing power of therapy for women to love themselves, trust themselves, and know themselves.
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