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Mental Health Worker

Mental health workers help people deal with personal and social problems. They teach related skills and provide information and support.

Also Known As

Community Support Worker

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

  • 4212: Community and Social Service Workers

2006 NOC-S

  • E212: Community and Social Service Workers

2011 NOC

  • 4212: Social and community service workers

2016 NOC

  • 4212: Social and community service workers

2021 NOC

  • 42201: Social and community service workers

2023 OaSIS

  • 42201.00: Social and community service workers
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Mental health workers work with a variety of clients one-on-one or in groups. Duties vary from one job to another. In general, mental health workers:

  • Develop, organize, and help deliver programs to promote mental health
  • Assess client needs, identify problems, and work with interdisciplinary teams to develop and deliver treatment plans
  • Work closely with clients’ families and health-care providers such as physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists
  • Act as a client advocate and coordinate required services
  • Provide a basic assessment of clients’ and families’ social and economic environments
  • Act as resources for families, community professionals, and other members of the care team
  • Provide early intervention and appropriate referral services
  • Liaise with and refer clients to appropriate government and community agencies to provide support for clients and their families
  • Help clients develop skills and strategies for dealing with their problems
  • Help people participate in activities that maintain or increase their quality of life
  • Help clients manage medications
  • Maintain confidential client records
  • Address mental health issues in the community at large

Mental health workers keep up to date with new developments in their field by:

  • Reading professional literature
  • Attending courses and seminars
  • Establishing and maintaining contact with other social agencies
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Some mental health workers work a standard workweek in an office setting. Others do shift work that includes evenings and weekends.

This work can be stressful. Mental health workers may have to deal with aggression or other behavioural issues.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Community and Social Service Workers

2006 NOC: 4212

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
SOCIAL

Interest in consulting with social assistance recipients and pensioners to advise and aid them in locating and utitizing a variety of community resources; in referring clients to other social services; in counselling clients living in group homes and halfway houses and assisting in pre-release and release planning; in providing crisis intervention and emergency-shelter services; and in co-ordinating volunteer activities of community and social services organizations

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to participate in the selection and admission of clients to appropriate programs; to assess clients' relevant skill strengths and deficits; and in maintaining contact with other social service agencies and health care providers involved with clients to provide information and obtain feedback on clients' overall progress

innovative

Interest in assisting clients to sort out options and develop plans of action, and in implementing and organizing the delivery of life-skills workshops, substance-abuse treatment programs, behaviour management programs, youth services programs and other community and social service programs under the supervision of social workers and health care professionals

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Mental health workers need:

  • Empathy and understanding
  • Emotional maturity and good judgment
  • A positive, flexible attitude
  • The ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • The ability to keep client relationships professional
  • The creativity to develop new programs or ways of doing things
  • Listening, speaking, and writing skills
  • Problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • The ability to work alone and as part of a team
  • An interest in helping people resolve problems

They should enjoy:

  • Helping others
  • Compiling information
  • Maintaining contact with other agencies
  • Solving problems creatively

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Social and community service workers

2016 NOC: 4212

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 167 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Dec 29, 2023 and Jul 18, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Construction Specialization: Client focus
Construction Specialization: Excellent written communication
Security and Safety: Criminal record check
Construction Specialization: Judgement
Construction Specialization: Effective interpersonal skills
Tasks: Administrative and office activities
Construction Specialization: Flexibility
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Initiative
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

Academic backgrounds vary greatly among mental health workers. Most have some post-secondary education in a discipline related to mental health. For example, they may have a bachelor’s degree in:

  • Nursing
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychology
  • Recreation therapy
  • Social work

See Related Occupational Profiles for a list of educational programs.

Cultural awareness is a definite asset. This includes the ability to speak one or more languages other than English, including First Nations languages.

Mental health workers may have to be registered, certified, or accredited by their professional association before working in the mental health field.


Related Education

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

Academy of Healthcare Services
Academy of Learning - Medicine Hat
Bay River College
Brookes College
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary City Centre
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary South
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton North
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton West
CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Red Deer
CLI College of Business Health & Technology - Calgary
CLI College of Business, Health and Technology - Edmonton North
Kelowna College of Professional Counselling
Mount Royal University
MTG Healthcare Academy - Edmonton
Reeves College - Calgary City Centre
Reeves College - Calgary North
Reeves College - Edmonton
Reeves College - Lethbridge
Reeves College - Lloydminster
Robertson College - Calgary
Robertson College - Edmonton
Sundance College - Edmonton
Thompson Rivers University

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Mental health workers work in:

  • Health-care and rehabilitation clinics and hospitals
  • Family and community services agencies (agencies that operate group homes and day programs)
  • Community mental-health clinics
  • Seniors’ lodges, assisted living facilities, and continuing care facilities
  • Private practices
  • School boards
  • Correctional facilities

Prospects for advancement depend on the size and nature of the employing organization. They also depend on the mental health worker’s qualifications.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 4212: Social and community service workers occupational group, 77.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 4212: Social and community service workers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 2% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 336 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Earnings for mental health workers vary a lot. Factors include job location, type of employer, position duties, and worker qualifications.

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Social and community service workers

2016 NOC: 4212
Average Wage
$23.98
Per Hour
Average Salary
$41,099.00
Per Year
Average Hours
32
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4212 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $35.54 $21.05 $18.00
Overall $15.84 $45.60 $23.98 $20.20
Top $18.00 $47.29 $26.99 $23.69

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Educational Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
55%
55%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
20%
20%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
8%
8%
Vacancy Rate
10%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: hsaa.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. 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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