Community mental health workers are in high demand, and a new program at Selkirk College will provide opportunities in this field. File Photo

Community mental health workers are in high demand, and a new program at Selkirk College will provide opportunities in this field. File Photo

Selkirk College to train community mental health workers

Twelve students will complete two courses enabling them to work in health and human services

A new education and training program at Selkirk College will enable people to train for high-demand jobs as community mental health workers, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

“B.C.’s need for mental health support has never been more critical than during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the news release states. “To meet that need, the government is investing a total of $800,000 across four public post-secondary institutions to train community mental health workers.”

Community mental health workers provide support, such as mental and physical health promotion, shelter support and addictions counselling, to individuals who struggle with mental health and addiction issues.

“Increasing capacity to provide mental health and addictions support to our communities is incredibly important right now as we battle an overdose crisis and navigate a global pandemic,” said Taya Whitehead, dean of the School of Health and Human Services at Selkirk College.

“This program will prepare existing health and human services practitioners with specialized knowledge and skills to support many of our vulnerable community members.”

The funding will enable 12 students on the Castlegar campus to complete two courses designed for students or practitioners working in fields of health and human services, and to participate in a two-day experiential workshop focused on motivational interviewing skills through remote delivery. This is a stand-alone mental health and addictions associate certificate.

“Training additional community mental health workers at Selkirk College will help make our communities healthier and safer spaces for everyone to enjoy,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West.

“The skills, knowledge and empathy these workers will bring to the Kootenays will help address the opioid epidemic and support people dealing with mental health and addiction challenges. I’m proud of our health-care workers, who are working to save lives, and happy to see more local training to ensure that everyone gets the care they need.”

This investment in community mental health is part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.