The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Community mental health worker program coming to Port Alberni

North Island College partnering with Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council

North Island College is offering a new opportunity for health care and support workers to expand their education with a focus on mental health.

The Community Mental Health Worker program is being offered in Port Alberni and Port Hardy, starting in January 2021. The program is open to individuals working as educational assistants, community support workers or health care assistants.

“We’ve seen a growing demand for mental health-specific training from workers on the frontlines in health care and community support,” said Kelly Johnsen, NIC human services department chair. “This program will enable those already working in the field to advance their education and provide increased support to clients in the community.”

The program includes a cultural and community wellness focus while also covering concepts for mental health, therapeutic supports, recovery and clinical practice in the community.

“Students will learn neurobiology, treatment modalities and intervention techniques to help support clients with mental health challenges with recovery, rehabilitation and goal setting,” said Johnsen. “As well, students will learn the cultural dimensions of community wellness to support individual and community wellness.”

Classes will be run virtually, with students taking part in practicum placements in either Port Alberni or Port Hardy.

“We’re very excited to be able to offer the theory through digital delivery, as it allowed us to open more seats and run the program in both Port Hardy and Port Alberni at the same time,” said Johnsen. “We are also very grateful to our community partners who worked with us to set up practicums following COVID safety guidelines to ensure the safety of their staff, our students and the clients of their organizations.”

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is one of the community partners NIC is working with.

“This program will provide students with the skills and job-ready training needed to fill the in-demand frontline health care worker positions in our community and across Vancouver Island,” said Marisa Bennett, Nuu-chah-nulth employment and training program manager.

Applications for the program are open now. Visit www.nic.bc.ca/programs for more information.

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