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How to Use Your Certificate in Mental Health and Addictions Support

By: Ashley Fazekas

Published On: July 14, 2022

Have you learned about the importance of mental health support, or are you interested in starting your education on how to get into this line of work? Maybe you’ve already finished the certificate program to become a Mental Health and Addictions Support Worker, and now you want to look into career options. There are many different possibilities for work in the field of mental health and addiction support. Whether you go straight into a support position or decide to take the test to become certified as a counsellor, taking the initial Mental Health and Addictions Support Worker Certificate course gives you the education requirements necessary to have flexible options to advance in this field. You will be joining an important industry dedicated to helping improve the lives of people struggling with their mental health. 

Options straight out of the program 

Just by getting your certificate in the program, you are already qualified to start looking for a support worker position. Some are government-supported and funded, while others are independent organizations with a single donor/supporter. Keeping in mind that job descriptions can vary dramatically, here are a few examples of the job positions you could get started in. 

Mental Health Support Worker or Addictions Support Worker 

You will be employed to assist other healthcare professionals with the treatment of mental health patients and aid with day-to-day activities. Other duties include: 

  • Helping patients with mental illness and other disabilities to complete daily activities such as eating and taking medications 
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals to develop treatment plans for people with mental health conditions 
  • Implementing treatment plans and administering medication or therapeutic care to their patients 
  • Observing patients for behavioural changes 
  • Supervising and monitoring patients within the facility to ensure their safety 
  • Performing comprehensive risk assessments on patients 
  • Educating patients’ families about the patients’ mental health issues and educating them on how they can aid their treatment 
  • Documenting and maintaining patient health records, or taking vital measurements. 
  • Recommending patients that need more personalized treatment to Psychiatrists and Clinicians 

Mental Health Rehabilitation Worker 

Also a support position, you will provide comprehensive psychosocial rehabilitation services within a recovery framework. This can include such duties as: 

  • Providing support to the recovery of individuals living with severe and persistent mental illnesses who require resources beyond the scope of secondary mental health services due to the intensity, complexity, or intractability of their symptoms 
  • Providing a variety of day-to-day physical, emotional, and social supports, advocacy, life skills assistance and support to access resources to individuals with complex severe and persistent mental illnesses 
  • Working collaboratively with the interdisciplinary team to assist in the development of individualized rehabilitative treatment plans 
  • Contributing to the overall evaluation of the client and the client’s progress 

Community Mental Health Worker 

This is a similar position to the first two options, but specifically in a community setting. This can include many non-for-profit organizations and facilities. Duties include: 

  • Providing support to clients who are facing issues of poverty, mental health, addictions, abuse, and social isolation in the community 
  • Working in shelters, safe houses, community centres, or public spaces designated for helping in-need members of the community 
  • Assisting clients in identifying areas of need and goal development, ensuring goals are attainable and time-specific, and that the client plays an integral role in the decision-making process 
  • Advocating on clients’ behalf 
  • Attending appointments with clients as needed 
  • Providing crisis management and linkage to crisis intervention services 
  • Facilitating psycho-educational and/or support groups 

Program Accreditation Options 

Once you graduate from the program, you might have gotten started in one of the previous types of support worker options, or maybe you immediately want to take it a step further. Our program is proudly accredited by the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF), which is internationally recognized as the gold standard provider in addiction credentialing both in Canada and on the international stage. Accreditation means the program meets the criteria and competencies required for both Canadian and International Certifications.   

Graduates of the Mental Health and Addictions Support Worker Certificate will satisfy the education requirements to become a Canadian Certified Addiction Counsellor (CCAC) or an International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor (ICADC). Graduates will also be able to count 120 hours from their studies towards part of their clinical supervision time required for certification. You are required by the CCAC and ICADC designation to write and pass an exam through CACCF as part of the process of obtaining your certification. Learn more about CACCF here. 

Job Options After Certification 

Completing the certification exam through CACCF is an excellent option to enhance your knowledge and skills, and broaden your options of possible jobs. Here is some more information about what to expect in these certified counsellor positions. 

Canadian Certified Addiction Counsellor (CCAC) or International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor (ICADC) 

The role of a Certified Addictions or Drug and Alcohol Counsellor is to help people through substance abuse addiction and help them through their recovery process. One of the most important parts of obtaining this position is work experience, which is necessary to acquire and refine the skills needed to be a competent alcohol and drug counselor. This must be direct experience in counselling based on the “Twelve Core Functions”. Such experience is defined as supervised work, paid, working directly with clients with a primary diagnosis of substance abuse. In order to be eligible for certification, candidates must document that they have obtained qualified clinical work experience in the field. Our MHASW program gives you 120 hours to start with, and you can continue with more until you reach the required 300. The ICADC certification is internationally recognized, allowing you to practice anywhere in the world.  

Certified counsellors help individuals, families, and communities identify and deal with addictions through treatment and prevention programs. In general, addictions counsellors' duties are as follows: 

  • Work with clients from diverse cultures and backgrounds who have eating disorders or are addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex or tobacco 
  • Assess client strengths, problem areas, the severity of dependence and readiness to change 
  • Develop client treatment plans that are based on research, clinical experience and client history  
  • Provide information about addiction issues and available services and programs, and make appropriate referrals, if necessary 
  • Hold information sessions and therapy groups, as required 
  • Counsel affected individuals and family members through all stages of recovery, while using appropriate intervention strategies and treatment approaches 
  • Review, evaluate, and document client progress 
  • Provide aftercare and follow-up, as appropriate 
  • Develop public education, prevention, and health promotion programs  
  • Work with organizations, institutions, and communities to develop, implement, and evaluate health and wellness programs 

By becoming a support worker, or a Certified Addictions Counsellor, you will be enriching your clients' lives by helping and supporting them through what can be a very challenging time. Any of the options in this career path will be rewarding and fulfilling, and you will be working towards a stronger stance on battling mental health. If you are still considering whether this industry is for you, read about why a career in mental health and addiction support is a fulfilling and important option.  



The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog. 


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