Mental Health Addictions

Mental Health & Addictions (MHA) Program Handbook

Increasing understanding, decreasing stigma

Policies and expectations unique to the Mental Health & Addictions Program are outlined in the handbook below. Please ensure that you read the HHS Student Handbook for general school information.

Last updated: April 28

Mental Health & Addictions Program is a part of the School of Health and Human Services, a place of warmth and caring. We're always looking to connect with future and current students so please don't hesitate to email if you have any questions.

Once enrolled in a program, you're required to familiarize yourself with the information found in your school and program information pages.

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Note: Downloaded versions of the student handbook are valid on the date of download. Critical changes or error corrections may happen at any time. Due to COVID-19, information in the handbook may change. For the most up-to-date information about Camosun’s response to COVID-19 go to

1. Welcome

1.1 Chair's Message

On behalf of all of us in the Community, Family, and Child Studies Department, welcome!

We are pleased that you have chosen Camosun College and a program or course in our Department as part of your journey. It is our privilege to be part of it. We are all here to help ensure your experience is worthwhile. We, too, have been students, have walked onto a campus for the first time, and have needed help to navigate our way forward. Don't hesitate to connect with us along the way.

All the very best,

Jeanne Puritch
Chair - Community, Family and Child Studies Department

Contact the Community, Family & Child Studies department.


2. Program Values

Mental health is the "capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, inter-connections, and personal dignity" (Public Health Agency of Canada, 1997). Mental health is achieved within multiple supportive environments including cultural, social, and physical contexts; it includes cognitive and emotional well-being resulting in positive self-identity and a sense of balance in one's life. An individual's mental health is impacted by intersecting factors including biological, socio-economic, political, cultural, environmental, spiritual, and lifestyle influences. A holistic bio-psycho-social-spiritual framework of care guides and facilitates practice that reflects an understanding of interdependent factors that shape well-being.

All individuals can move toward improved mental health and well-being. When an individual experiences both mental illness and substance use issues, they may have complex challenges and support needs.  Interventions for co-occurring issues of mental illness and addiction are most effective when offered with an integrated and interprofessional approach.

The following beliefs contribute to effectiveness of interventions and programs:

  • All individuals have inherent worth and a right to participate and be fully included in their communities of choice
  • Diversity is valued and supported through culturally responsive practice
  • Relational practice is essential for establishing and maintaining effective therapeutic environments
  • A strengths-based perspective honours individual capacity and promotes self-identity
  • A partnership approach, including client, family, and community is preferable
  • The role of families in promoting well-being & providing care is recognized & their needs supported
  • Psychosocial rehabilitation principles are an important component of an effective mental health and addiction program
  • Environmental supports and resources must be individualized and client-directed
  • Mental health and addiction services that recognize and respect Indigenous culture and values are more likely to be successful
  • A social justice "lens" is necessary to advocate for adequate supports and services

2.1 Program Purpose

The Mental Health and Addictions Certificate program prepares students to be members of inter-professional teams supporting individuals who are experiencing mental health and addiction challenges.

Students learn to work from a strengths-based perspective, emphasizing the interaction between individuals and their physical, social, and cultural environments. Students learn to use a holistic approach to support individuals mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially. Students learn about diversity and culturally-responsive practice. They also gain knowledge of Indigenous history and culture in relation to mental health and addiction issues.

Students gain entry-level knowledge and skills necessary to promote, support, and strengthen the functioning of individuals and community. Graduates may work in community based, residential, and outreach settings.


3. Teaching Philosophy

3.1 Curriculum

Much time and effort has gone into the initial and continuous development of the MHA program to offer you a dynamic curriculum that is responsive to the needs of individuals with mental health and substance use issues, their family, and the community. We have an Advisory Committee made up of community members, employers, and graduates that informs us of trends and issues impacting mental health and addiction services. We also have students and practicum sites provide feedback throughout the year to assist us to continually improve our program.

The courses were created to complement each other (sometimes revisiting content in a different context) and reflect program threads, or themes, such as psychosocial rehabilitation, interpersonal communication, client-centred and strength-based care, and being a reflective practitioner. Each course contains outcomes to assist you to attain the skills and knowledge identified in the Graduate Profile. You will soon recognize the integration of content as you progress through the program, and the experience of practicum pulls it all together as you integrate knowledge and skills into practice.


4. Program Learning Outcomes

4.1 Performance Indicators

Upon completion of the MHA Certificate program graduates are able to:

  1. Use critical thinking and solution-focused skills within a community mental health and addiction context
  2. Apply current knowledge of mental health, mental illness, addictions, and concurrent processes to one's practice within community mental health and addiction services
  3. Demonstrate understanding of contexts and frameworks that guide practice when supporting individuals and families experiencing mental illness and/or addiction challenges
  4. Provide intervention and support within the contexts of mental health and addiction services
  5. Demonstrate an ability to develop and enhance therapeutic relationships
  6. Develop effective collaborative working relationships with members of the interprofessional team
  7. Identify, access, and advocate for community services for individuals and families
  8. Demonstrate ethical and responsible behaviour and be accountable for own actions and decisions
  9. Demonstrate effective responses to the demands of the professional role


5. Classroom, Lab, or Clinic Etiquette

5.1 Expectations of Student Performance

We have compiled the following information to assist you in the role of learner as you embark on this educational journey. Please do not hesitate to approach your instructors for more information or clarification on any aspects of the courses (assignments, classes, etc.) or connect with the Program Leader for questions relating to the overall MHA program (e.g. changes in your course plan).

Adult Learners & Post-Secondary Education

Students arrive to the MHA program with varying degrees of educational and life experience, and each person is unique in their learning style and needs. Throughout the program we provide an assortment of learning and assessment strategies to reflect these differences, and we hope that some aspects of our program challenge and stretch your capacities beyond acquiring new knowledge. Whether you are returning to school after many years or a few months, you are undoubtedly making a few changes in your life to accommodate your studies. Camosun College offers a vast array of student services that can support you in your learning and we encourage you to take advantage of them (some you will learn about in your orientation activities). Our primary endeavour is to assist you to be successful during your time at Camosun and as a graduate in your community.

As a post-secondary student, you are responsible to identify and share your needs with the instructor and your peers when appropriate. Only you know best what you need to be a successful learner. A Danish proverb states, "He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning." We encourage you to use this time to embrace learning and the collective wisdom of the classroom, of which you are an important component.

5.2 Grading Systems

All assignments and non-graded learning activities in any course must be completed satisfactorily (minimum 60% average) to successfully complete the course. Because MHA 110 through MHA 135 courses are prerequisites for MHA 140 (practicum), all assignments must be submitted and grades entered for a student to advance to practicum. 

Late Policy

In exceptional circumstances, students may arrange with the instructor for an extension of an assignment before the due date. A professional's note will be required.

All assignments are to be submitted in hard-copy (or online if specified by 11pm) to the instructor by the start of class on the due date. In fairness to all students, late assignments will be deducted 5% per day after the first five minutes of class.

Please connect with your instructor if you are experiencing any set-backs or require more support. We have many resources we can help you access if needed.

5.3 Attendance and Absenteeism

You will see that the course syllabi in the MHA program have the same information regarding participation and assignment due dates. This consistency is necessary for fairness to all students. Life situations may arise during your course of study which hamper your learning and we cannot expect that students will be able to attend all classes. Our responsibility as a program is to ensure you do meet the learning outcomes for each course to qualify for the certificate. Employers have come to trust and depend on the skills and knowledge that the designation of MHA Certificate represents.

Your responsibility as a student is to inform instructors if you intend to miss a class, and to ensure you connect with other students to get the materials (notes, handouts) that you missed. It is strongly recommended that you pre-arrange for another student to collect materials for you in the unlikely event that you miss a class. You may require notes and handouts for online activities before the next face-to-face class. If you miss in-class content you will be required to obtain and demonstrate that component of learning outside of class time. The format will vary depending on the course and learning activity missed in the classroom. 

Participation Guidelines

Due to the short and intense nature of the MHA program, classes are planned as a continuum for building the skill and knowledge required to meet the competencies for working in community mental health & addiction services. Repeated absence from class will be discussed with the student. Participation includes:

  • Pre-class preparation, including reading and assignment materials
  • Arriving at class on time and consistent attendance
  • Constructive and appropriate comments in class and online
  • Active participation in group work, online, and classroom activities
  • Active and respectful listening and online dialogue
  • Considerate behaviour towards others in the classroom and online


6. Practicum Guidelines

Students will find information on their practicum expectations within their practical skills and practicum course materials. Consult with your instructor or Chair if you are unable to locate your supporting documents.

  1. Clinical and Community Placement Protocol
  2. Student Safety and orientations on practicums
  3. Practice Guidelines/Professional Standards of Practice
  4. Practice Appraisals