2,400 new people are needed in the NZ Mental Health and Addiction sector by 2020 to meet employment growth and replacement demand. And you can become one of them. As a MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT WORKER you’ll be able to watch people heal and grow to build a life worth living.

What’s involved

Mental health support workers support people with mental health issues. You’ll work alongside people, their family and whānau to support autonomy by using tools and strategies to foster hope, support recovery and build resilience. You could work in a range of health or community settings e.g. community centres, psychiatric wards, marae, churches.

A typical day

A mental health support worker may do some or all of the following:

  • support individuals to live as independently as possible.
  • provide advice and guidance rather than personal care.
  • support with developing everyday skills.
  • organise activities e.g. sports, drama, educational.
  • work in teams with other professionals including social workers, drug action groups, police, and health authorities.

“In my role I develop and facilitate personal development programmes that empower those who experience a mental illness to develop their natural strengths and capabilities. I love helping people heal and grow to build a life worth living.” 

Christina, Programme Facilitator, Framework Trust 


Mental Health Support Workers need:

  • a supportive, understanding and caring nature.
  • excellent communication skills for delivering information.
  • good team skills when working with other professionals and services.
  • problem solving skills.
  • to be practical, organised and responsible with good time management skills.
  • to relate well to people from a range of cultures.


Mental health support workers need to have:

  • an understanding of social and cultural issues and problems.
  • an understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • previous experience working with people in a social/care support setting is useful.

How to become a qualified Mental health support worker

Volunteering is a good way to start to gain some experience.

You learn to become a Mental health support worker through on the job training supported by Careerforce, so you will need to be employed. Your employer can help you gain relevant, practical qualifications while gaining experience in a work environment. Assessment is carried out by assessors within the workplace.

Career Journey

At School Introductory Roles Advancing Roles Leadership Roles/Senior Roles
  Role Titles Role Titles Role Titles
The Arts
Health and Physical Education
Social Sciences
Mental Health Support Worker
Community Worker
Community Support Worker
Peer Support Worker Addiction Support Worker
Registered Mental Health Nurse/Case
Clinical Nurse
Child Adolescent and Family Services
Mental Health RN/Case Manager
Mental Health Forensic Services
RN supporting youth and adults
Mental Health rehabilitation
Mental Health Nurse
Qualifications Qualifications Qualifications
Gateway Subjects
Follow the Purple Pathway (Social and Community Services)
New Zealand Apprenticeship in Health and Wellbeing (Level 4) Community Facilitation
New Zealand Apprenticeship in Health and Wellbeing (Level 4) Mental Health and Addiction Support
Tertiary qualifications Tertiary qualifications

More Information

Read more about Mental health support work qualifications
New Zealand Apprenticeship in Health and Wellbeing (Level 4) Community Facilitation

In employment

  • Talk to your employer
  • Contact 0800 277 486 and talk to our Apprenticeship and Vocational Pathways Advisors at Careerforce.

Still at school?

  • Talk to your Careers Advisor
  • Contact 0800 277 486 and talk to our Apprenticeship and Vocational Pathways Advisors at Careerforce.



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