Updated January 2023
It could easily be argued that absolutely everyone can benefit from a quality mental health education course.
With skyrocketing rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide across the globe, it seems obvious that mental health education and resources should be a top priority for us all.
However, until that day comes, it makes sense to support our first line of defense. We’re talking about front-line professionals who deal closely with the public every single day.
Health care providers are an obvious part of this group, but there are many other occupations that involve working with and supporting groups of people. Educators, social workers, and HR professionals, to name a few.
Any position that involves helping, treating, teaching, coaching, managing, and motivating others can overlap with the domain of mental health.
Curious about who takes our Mental Health & Addictions course, or if you could benefit from it yourself? Here's a look at the professions our students come from and why they take this training.
Health care workers
It is well documented that many nurses and doctors lack sufficient training in mental health. Even after years of medical school, many primary care practitioners have only a cursory understanding of psychiatric and mental health disorders.
And yet, more and more patients are asking for mental health support. The New Yorker reported on this trend back in 2013:
“It’s estimated that seventy per cent of a primary-care doctor’s practice now involves management of psychosocial issues ranging from marriage counselling to treatment of anxiety and depression."
The numbers have only escalated since then. Depression has become one of the most common mental health disorders on the planet and a leading cause of disability worldwide.
And what about other front-line health care providers who deal directly with people struggling with poor mental health? This group includes:
☑️ Home health care aides
☑️ Personal support workers
☑️ Child/youth workers
☑️ Adult care workers
☑️ Addictions counsellors
☑️ Family service workers
☑️ Women’s shelter workers
☑️ Aboriginal outreach workers
☑️ Community development workers
☑️ Residential support workers
While educational programs for these fields often include introductory courses on mental health, most professionals benefit from more in-depth training in areas like:
☑️ Mental health first aid
☑️ Crisis intervention
☑️ Signs and symptoms of poor mental health
☑️ Community mental health resources
☑️ Government policy on mental health
☑️ Latest research on mental health assessment and treatments
☑️ Mental health and addiction (concurrent disorders)
You may be trained to support an elderly person in their home as a health care aide—but are you prepared to respond to a patient with schizophrenia?
Do you know how to approach someone who is threatening suicide or having a panic attack?
Learning practical mental health knowledge and skills can make a huge difference for front-line health care providers. These professionals make up a large percentage of students in our Mental Health and Addictions course.
Anyone who has done a teaching degree knows that mental health training is not a key part of the curriculum.
Education programs often neglect to teach practical mental health knowledge and intervention strategies, even though in the real world, teachers are dealing with these issues on a daily basis.
The prevalence of drugs, bullying, sexual violence, and mass shootings at schools is a stark reminder of this reality.
We have quite a few educators in the mental health course looking for ways to better support at-risk kids in their classrooms. This is because youth are particularly vulnerable to mental health disorders like depression, addiction, and anxiety.
☑️ 11% of youth in Canada—approximately 4.4 million young people—have experienced and/or sought treatment for depression. (CBC)
☑️ Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young Canadians, accounting for almost one-quarter of all deaths at ages 15 to 24. (Health Reports, Statistics Canada)
☑️ 20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder. (Canadian Mental Health Association)
☑️ In Canada, only 20 per cent of children who need mental health services receive them. (Canadian Mental Health Association)
Teachers often find themselves trying to help students who are exhibiting signs of poor mental health.
But lack of training makes it difficult to approach the student, identify signs of an impending crisis, or direct parents toward appropriate resources.
And from a pedagogical perspective, a better understanding of common mental health disorders can help educators modify their teaching to better accommodate and include those who are affected.
One thing is certain: Young people spend most of their time in the classroom. Teachers equipped with quality mental health training can make a big difference in those kids' lives.
Human resources Professionals
Most human resources positions are to some extent concerned with talent retention, productivity, performance evaluation, and employee relations.
All of these areas are impacted by mental health awareness and support in the workplace.
Depending on the role, HR professionals may be responsible for providing mental health training to managers and team leaders. They may also be responsible for accommodating workers with mental health disorders.
In fact, HR often plays a leadership role in defining how an organization cultivates psychological health and safety in the workplace.
How can you work in human resources without acknowledging the reality of mental illness at work? And yet, far too few HR professionals get quality mental health education.
Research clearly shows that unaddressed mental health problems wreak havoc on employee wellness, performance, and the business bottom line. These are all issues directly impacting the HR department:
☑️ The most common sources of workplace stress are unrealistic demands, poor communication with managers, and unchecked bullying and harassment from colleagues (National Institutes of Health)
☑️ In a survey of HR professionals, 46 per cent said burnout was a key factor in employee turnover. (HR Partner)
☑️ The top two reasons employees quit are "bad" managers and lack of work/life balance. (SHRM)
Many of the HR professionals who take our mental health training are striving to reverse these trends at their own companies.
In order to thrive, organizations must address mental health issues at work.
They need robust policies in place to provide accommodations, manager training, employee resources, and a culture where mental health issues are no longer stigmatized and ignored.
Small business owners and managers
What if you run a small business that doesn’t have an HR team? How should you respond when an employee comes to you with a mental health issue? How should you address the issue of mental health at your company?
This is a challenge managers and team leaders are facing on a regular basis all across the country.
Many small business owners and managers want to cultivate a positive, healthy work culture—they simply lack the knowledge and skills needed to properly support team members with mental health disorders.
Research on mental health in the workplace reveals just how common (and costly!) this problem is.
☑️ Almost one-third of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are related to mental health. (Mental Health Commission of Canada)
☑️ 47 per cent of working Canadians agree that work is the most stressful part of their day. (Workplace Strategies for Mental Health)
☑️ For every $1 invested in addressing common mental disorders at work, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. (World Health Organization)
The World Health Organization lays out several best practices for promoting good mental health at work, all of which start with better mental health training for managers.
Managers with even basic knowledge of common mental health disorders, symptoms, and support resources can make a huge difference at work.
Increased productivity, profitability, workplace morale, respect for leadership—there are clear and proven benefits across the board.
Bottom line: If you’re managing a team, some degree of mental health education is a must.
Learn more about the Mental Health & Addictions course
The Mental Health and Addictions course is a three-to-six-month training program (depending on the pace you choose).
The course is delivered online through Kompass Professional Development, a division of Herzing College.
The instructor, Rose Ceci, is a certified psychiatric mental health nurse with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Click below to explore the course for yourself. See admission requirements, explore a detailed list of topics, and chat live with an advisor for more information.