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Mental Health Aide

Mental health aides work under the direct supervision of health care professionals caring for people who are mentally ill, developmentally handicapped, cognitively impaired or brain injured.

  • Avg. Salary $34,578.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.95
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 28,200
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Health Care Assistant, Institutional Aide, Medical Assistant, Nursing Assistant, Psychiatric Aide, Residential Aide

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Nurse Aides, Orderlies and Patient Service Associates (3413) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Nurse Aides, Orderlies and Patient Service Associates (D312) 
  • 2011 NOC: Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates (3413) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Mental Health Aide is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Nurse Aides, Orderlies and Patient Service Associates

Interest in assisting hospital staff by carrying messages, reports, requisitions and specimens from one department to another; in providing comfort to patients by answering call signals, making beds and maintaining patients' rooms; in assisting patients with menu selection; and in setting-up and providing leisure activities for patients, and accompanying patients on outside recreational activities


Interest in copying routine procedures to provide basic patient care, supervise patients' exercise routines, transport patients in wheelchairs and stretchers, and supply and empty bed pans; in maintaining inventory of supplies; in reporting or recording fluid intake or output; and in observing or monitoring patients' status and document patient care on charts


Interest in operating medical equipment to take blood pressure, temperature and pulse; in collecting specimens such as urine, faeces and sputum; in administering suppositories, colonic irrigations and enemas; and in performing other procedures as directed by nursing and hospital staff; may perform maintenance tasks such as assist with the set-up and maintenance of traction equipment, clean or sterilize equipment, maintain and repair equipment and assemble, set-up and operate equipment

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 16, 2016

In hospitals, mental health aides:

  • provide routine physical, emotional, psychological and rehabilitation care for patients
  • assist with treatments and procedures
  • organize and supervise activities
  • assist in maintaining a clean, orderly and safe environment
  • attend to the personal needs of patients
  • observe and assist patients.

In long-term care facilities, mental health aides perform a variety of routine unit or group home functions related to the care of people who have developmental disabilies. For example, mental health aides may:

  • provide health maintenance and hygiene services (bathing, feeding, dressing)
  • observe, report and record behaviours
  • implement support strategies recommended by behavioural specialists
  • escort residents going to off-unit programs and activities, medical appointments or shopping malls
  • support individuals to participate in activities that maintain or increase their quality of life
  • promote higher functioning including social, physical and emotional well-being
  • provide one-to-one and group support to clients of mental health services, according to clients' individual service or treatment plans
  • teach daily living skills.

Mental health aides are primary care givers who enable the individuals they care for to take as much responsibility as possible in daily planning and decision making.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

This work can be physically and emotionally demanding. Aides spend much of their shift on their feet and do a great deal of repetitive bending, stretching and lifting (up to 20 kilograms).

Shift work is required in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Mental health aides should possess the following characteristics:

  • patience and tolerance
  • the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • physical strength and manual dexterity
  • the ability to follow instructions
  • good observation skills
  • good communication skills
  • the ability to work effectively as a member of a team.

They should enjoy helping people, having clear guidelines and organized methods for their work, and operating tools, equipment and machinery.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Mental health aides receiveextensive in-service training particularly during their first month of employment.

Job applicants should have a high school diploma and current CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification. The following qualifications are definite assets:

  • experience in dealing with special populations
  • first aid certification
  • social science courses at the post-secondary level
  • health care aide training.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Bredin College of Business and Health Care - Calgary

Bredin College of Business and Health Care - Edmonton

CLI College of Business Health & Technology - Calgary

CLI College of Business, Health and Technology - Edmonton North

Mount Royal University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Mental health aides work in institutions and clinics for the:

  • brain injured
  • aged
  • mentally ill
  • developmentally handicapped
  • physically ill.

Without additional education, advancement opportunities for mental health aides are limited.

Mental health aides are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3413: Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates. In Alberta, 96% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 24,500 Albertans are employed in the Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 882 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As mental health aide form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for mental health aide.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Salaries vary considerably depending on the employer and on the employee's responsibilities, experience and training.

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) website.

Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $21.09 $18.98 $19.52
Overall $15.00 $23.74 $20.95 $21.30
Top $16.00 $25.34 $22.81 $23.74

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Community Care Services
    • Health Care Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 27, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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