Mental Health program approved for credential

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April 25, 2016
Lakeland College’s newly named community mental health certificate program has been officially approved by Alberta Advanced Education
Effective July 1, 2016, students will receive credit for completing this online certificate program – formerly named Mental Health Practitioner

The program was first introduced as a non-credit program in 2014 to educate helping professionals and increase their knowledge, skill and ability to support those experiencing mental health challenges. There are currently 17 registrations in the courses offered in this program. The first cohort of community mental health certificate program students is expected to graduate next year.

“Our students who are already taking the program will now receive a Government of Alberta approved credential,” says Joanne McDonald, chair of the School of Human Services, noting the course material and program requirements will not be affected by the program’s name change. “To have that stamp of approval from the government is important for the college and our students.”

Designed for students to take on a part-time basis, the community mental health certificate program consists of nine courses including introduction to mental health, concurrent disorders, infant/toddler mental health, and alternative therapies. Students are also required to complete a practicum component.

“You just see a whole broader spectrum of mental health and wellness with this program, and how to work with people and recognize their needs, have more empathy and understanding for all the different components of the community,” says Shirley Scott, who is currently taking the online mental health program. 

Available only online, the community mental health certificate program has generated interest from students across Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. To be eligible for admission, candidates must have a post-secondary credential.

“The word is spreading about our program because there is definitely a need for it,” says McDonald. “Our program is targeted to professionals who have a background in human services. Introductory courses give you a good foundation but they don’t give you the specifics for signs and systems, actual agencies in your community and how can you really focus on helping in that particular area. Because mental health is such a broad area, having those specifics really help and we’re pleased to be able to offer them in this program.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 per cent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. 

Human services also offers early learning and child care, educational assistant, child and youth care, and American Sign Language and deaf culture studies online. Early learning and child care is also offered online in French (Éducation à la petite enfance).