Students of the Community Mental Health Worker program between classes

Mental Health Care Assistant

  • Program Length 
    2 Years
  • Credential 
  • Location Offered 

The Mental Health Care Assistant Diploma Program

The Mental Health Care Assistant Diploma Program trains international students to practice in hospital, long term care, community, and mental health settings. Students learn to help clients with daily living activities. They also gain the skills to enhance client quality of life and mental well-being.

The four-semester program bridges the Health Care Assistant Certificate program and Community Mental Health Worker Certificate program learning outcomes through an integrated experiential capstone project.

Graduates will be able to meet clients’ basic needs. This includes providing support for mental health challenges. They can find work in:

  • hospitals
  • long-term care settings
  • community settings

Graduates can also apply to other Health and Human Services programs at VIU. This includes the Licensed Practical Nursing Program and the Bachelor of Science of Nursing Program once Permanent Residence status is achieved.

Year 1


HCAS 110 - (Health: Interpersonal Communications)


HCAS 120 - (Health: Lifestyle and Choices)


HCAS 130 - (Health Care Assistant: Introduction to Practice)


HCAS 140 - (Health and Healing: Concepts for Practice)


HCAS 150 - (Healing 1: Common Health Challenges)


HCAS 160 - (Healing 2: Cognitive or Mental Challenges)


HCAS 170 - (Healing: Personal Care and Assistance)


HCAS 180 - (Practice Experience in Multi-Level and/or Complex Care)


HCAS 190 - (Practice Experience in Home Support and/or Assisted Living)


CMHW 110 - (Introduction to Practice)


CMHW 111 - (Introduction to Mental Health: Theory and Practice)


Total Year 1 Credits


Year 2


CMHW 115 - (Developing Therapeutic Relationships)


CMHW 135 - (Mental Health and Addictions)


CMHW 120 - (Approaches to Support)


CMHW 130 - (Care of Self and Others)


CMHW 145 - (Mental Health Assessment and Interventions)


CMHW 140 - (Practicum)


CMHS 200 - (Capstone Project)


Total Year 2 Credits


Total Program Credits


Completion Requirements

A grade of C+ is required in all theory courses (including the Capstone Project) and a grade of CR in all lab and practicum courses to be awarded the MHCA Diploma.

Notes on Admission

  • Two criminal record checks are required for this program. Prior to program start, successful applicants must submit a police certificate (Criminal Record Check) from country of origin. Once in Canada an additional criminal record check done under the Criminal Records Review Act is required prior to fieldwork, practicums or clinical practice.
  • Fieldwork, practicums, or clinical practice will require a satisfactory criminal record check prior to placement. The Registration Centre at VIU will contact prospective students regarding the Criminal Record Check that needs to be done once in Canada. Criminal Record Checks are processed through the Ministry according to the Criminal Records Review Act. A check completed through the RCMP is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Act.

Additional Student Requirements


  • A completed Immunization Requirements Form (can be done in home country or in Canada prior to clinical).
  • Proof of COVID 19 vaccines (vaccine passport).

Additional Training

  • Proof of W.H.M.I.S. training.
  • Foodsafe Level I certificate.
  • Standard First Aid certificate (must include CPR Level "C").

Students who successfully complete all VIU’s Health Care Assistant Certificate program requirements may apply to the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry to be eligible to work as a Health Care Assistant in British Columbia while continuing the MHCA Diploma program.

Requirements to Attend Clinical

The program assistant will work with the applicants to confirm any outstanding mandatory immunizations and/or courses required and will assist with scheduling.

Recommended Personal Characteristics

Before applying for this program, students should learn as much as possible about this career. The following traits are critical for student success:

  • sensitivity to the needs of others;
  • trustworthiness, integrity, flexibility;
  • ability to move freely in confined spaces; physical stamina
  • ability to speak confidently with people of all ages;
  • ability to pay close attention to detail;
  • ability to work quickly with accuracy and efficiency;
  • ability to manage time effectively and handle responsibility;
  • ability to problem-solve effectively in a limited time span;
  • excellent oral and personal hygiene;
  • willingness to show commitment to program by regular attendance;
  • ability to be punctual on a consistent basis;
  • ability to participate in own learning by displaying preparedness for class and clinical settings;
  • ability to perform basic home management and cooking skills

International Fees

Tuition and Other Mandatory Student Fees

When applying to the program, applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee.

When applying to graduate, students will be charged a non-refundable graduation and alumni fee.

Some courses have additional fees to pay for extraordinary class–related expenses.

Fees for Year 1


Tuition (2 semesters x $10870.72 per semester + 7 credits x $776.48 per credit)


Lab Fee


Ancillary Fee (2 semesters x $463.40 per semester + 7 credits x $33.10 per credit)


VIU Students' Union fee (8 months x $26.59 per month)


Health and Dental Plan fee ($265.00 per year)




Fees for Year 2


Tuition (1 semester x $10870.72 per semester + 9 credits x $776.48 per credit)


Ancillary Fee (1 semester x $463.40 per semester + 9 credits x $33.10 per credit)


VIU Students' Union fee (8 months x $26.59 per month)


Health and Dental Plan fee ($265.00 per year)





Tuition in the above table is based on $776.48 per credit, up to a maximum of $10,870.72 per semester for 15 credits; $776.48 per credit beyond 15 credits. Ancillary Fees in the above table are based on $33.10 per credit, up to a maximum of $463.40 per semester for 15 credits; $33.10 per credit beyond 15 credits.

Amounts calculated using Nanaimo Campus rates.

Students are responsible for travel expenses to clinical agencies.

The VIUSU Health and Dental Plan fee is assessed for all students enrolled in 6 credits or more per term, or in Trades/Vocational programs of 5 months or longer. 

All fees are subject to change without prior notice and are expected to increase by 2% each year on April 1.

Monday, April 3, 2023


Program Start Date Accepting Applications Location
Anticipated intake for someone applying today
Sep 9, 2024
Accepting International Applications
Application Fee
Accepting Late Applications
International Admissions Officer Contact

Name: Karen Cheung


This program is open for international students only.

For prospective international applicants, please send your inquiries to World VIU at

Previous versions of this program can be found in the Program Archive.