10 Best Degrees to Understand Mental Health

Understanding mental health is crucial in today’s society. It allows us to support and promote the well-being of individuals facing mental health challenges. 

You may think psychology and psychiatry are the only two degrees to help understand mental health, but that’s not the truth. Pursuing a relevant degree can provide a comprehensive understanding of mental health’s complexities. 

Here are ten of the best degrees that offer a solid foundation in this field. 

  1. Psychiatry

Psychiatry is a highly specialized field crucial in understanding and addressing mental health conditions. Pursuing a degree in psychiatry involves extensive medical training. This equips individuals with in-depth knowledge of mental health’s biological and medical aspects.

By earning a medical degree and specializing in psychiatry, professionals comprehensively understand the intricate relationship between the brain, body, and mental health. They learn about the neurobiological factors that contribute to the development and manifestation of mental disorders. 

They also learn bout the physiological mechanisms underlying various psychiatric conditions. This knowledge enables psychiatrists to diagnose mental illnesses and develop targeted treatment plans.

  1. Psychology

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology, even pursued online, is a popular and accessible degree option for individuals seeking to develop a fundamental understanding of mental health. This program encompasses a wide range of topics. It provides a comprehensive overview of human behavior, cognition, emotion, and psychopathology complexities.

Through a BA in psychology online, students can explore the foundational principles and theories of psychology. They delve into areas such as developmental psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, and abnormal psychology.

These courses help students gain insights into the factors that shape human behavior, thought processes, and emotions, enabling them to understand the intricacies of mental health.

  1. Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is a specialized field within psychology that is dedicated to understanding and addressing mental disorders. Pursuing a degree in clinical psychology offers comprehensive training in various areas related to mental health, including psychological assessment, psychotherapy techniques, and research methods.

In a clinical psychology program, students delve into psychological assessment’s theoretical foundations and practical applications. They learn to administer and interpret various assessment tools and techniques, including interviews, standardized tests, and observational methods.

This training enables future clinical psychologists to accurately diagnose mental disorders and develop appropriate treatment plans tailored to individual client’s needs.

  1. Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology is a specialized branch that focuses on helping individuals overcome emotional and psychological difficulties through therapeutic interventions. Pursuing a degree in counseling psychology provides students with the required knowledge to support individuals in need and promote their mental well-being.

A degree in counseling psychology encompasses coursework that delves into the theoretical foundations of counseling, human development, and psychopathology. Students gain a deep understanding of various counseling approaches, including person-centered therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions. 

  1. Social Work

A social work degree is dedicated to promoting social justice, equality, and the well-being of individuals and communities. Pursuing a degree in social work equips individuals with the skills necessary to provide support, advocacy, and resources to those in need, including individuals facing mental health challenges.

A social work degree program encompasses coursework that covers a wide range of topics. Students learn about social welfare policies, human behavior and development, social justice, cultural diversity, and community organizing. They understand the systemic factors contributing to mental health disparities and learn how to navigate and advocate within social service systems to ensure access to necessary resources.

  1. Neuroscience

Neuroscience is considered a multidisciplinary field that explores the intricate relationship between the brain and behavior. Pursuing a degree in neuroscience offers a comprehensive explanation of the biological basis of behavior and mental processes, providing valuable insights into the biological underpinnings of mental health conditions.

A degree in neuroscience involves an in-depth study of the structure, function, and organization of the nervous system, with a specific emphasis on the brain. Students learn about the various regions and systems within the brain and how they contribute to different cognitive processes, emotions, and behaviors. 

  1. Public Health

A degree in public health offers a comprehensive and population-focused approach to understanding mental health. Public health professionals examine the broader societal and environmental factors that influence mental well-being, particularly emphasizing health promotion, prevention strategies, and the social determinants of mental health.

In a public health program, students gain a deep understanding of the social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to mental health outcomes at the population level. They learn about the impact of social determinants, such as poverty, education, access to healthcare, discrimination, and social support networks, on mental health disparities and outcomes.

  1. Psychiatric Nursing

Psychiatric nursing is a specialized field that combines nursing education with a focus on mental health. Pursuing a degree in psychiatric nursing equips individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide holistic care, assessment, treatment, and support for individuals experiencing mental health disorders.

In a psychiatric nursing program, students gain a strong foundation in nursing principles and practices, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and patient care. They learn the fundamentals of nursing assessment, health promotion, and therapeutic communication, which form the basis for providing comprehensive mental health care.

Psychiatric nurse practictioners can write  prescriptions, and enjoy flexible working conditions that allow them to work in an independent office setting, or surrounded by a team of general practitioners.  In addition to a variety of options and flexability, the steps to become a pych nurse practitioner are not too different from similarly related psychology degrees. 

  1. Human Development and Family Studies

Human Development and Family Studies examines how individuals develop and function within the context of families, relationships, and society. Pursuing a degree in this field provides valuable insights into the impact of early experiences, social dynamics, and family relationships on mental health.

In a Human Development and Family Studies program, students study various aspects of human development across the lifespan, from infancy to old age. They explore the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social changes individuals experience and how these factors intersect with family dynamics and societal influences.

  1. Anthropology

As a field of study, anthropology offers valuable insights into mental health by examining the complex interactions between human societies, cultures, and individual well-being. Cultural anthropology, in particular, focuses on understanding how cultural beliefs, values, and practices influence mental health and illness.

In an anthropology program, students explore the diverse cultural contexts in which mental health is understood and experienced. They examine how different societies define and interpret mental health conditions and the cultural factors that shape help-seeking behaviors, treatment approaches, and stigma surrounding mental illness.


Gaining a deeper understanding of mental health through pursuing a relevant degree is essential for effectively addressing the complexities of this field. Whether it’s psychology or anthropology, each degree provides unique perspectives and insights into mental health. 

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