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New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing - Mental Health and Addiction Support

Gain an understanding of what it means to be mentally healthy, develop the skills you need to support those who need mental health or addiction support, and learn how to meet their needs to the highest standard. 

120 (1.0 EFTS)
Start dates
February or July
Full-time for one year, part-time options available for domestic students.

Programme overview

This programme is suitable for people who want to, or who already, work in the mental health and addiction sector (including peer support). You will develop a solid understanding of mental health and addiction issues, as well as the important skills you'll need to work with people, whānau groups, and communities.  

This programme emphasises kindness, caring, and compassion, and respects individual identities and experiences, particularly when it comes to recognising te ao Māori. You’ll also learn about relevant legal issues such as human rights and privacy. A combination of classes and work-based learning means you’ll apply skills as you learn them. 

You’ll use your own experiences and values to come away with a clear understanding of your own role within the mental health and addiction sector in Aotearoa. You’ll then be able to harness your own unique qualities to assist and encourage the people you work alongside to develop and then maintain their own mental health and wellbeing. 

Please note: While this programme is full-time, you are only required to be on-campus for 3 days a week. The remaining time can be spent on self-directed learning or work experience. 


  • You’ll be able to practice safely and professionally as a mental health support worker. 
  • You’ll learn by doing, by completing at least 200 hours in work placements in a mental health or addiction setting. This can be prearranged, or we can arrange a placement for you when you start the programme.   
  • You’ll receive up-to-date knowledge about mental health, addictions, and co-existing issues. 
  • You will learn more about yourself and others by examining different cultures, values, and attitudes around mental health and addiction support. 
  • You’ll learn how to be a highly skilled communicator to create a trusted and open relationship with the people you work with, as well as their families/whānau, and community networks. 
  • You’ll be taught by lecturers who specialise in mental health.   

Where to from here?

If you want to continue on to further study upon successful completion of this programme, you could consider the Bachelor of Social Practice, where you’ll have the chance to become a registered social worker. 

Admission requirements

Academic requirements

Please note: Future immunisations for COVID-19 may be required for all students in this programme. 

For this programme, you'll need the following:

  1. Be at least 16 years old on the programme's start date;
  2. At least 4 years of secondary school education;
  3. At least one of the following academic requirements: 
    • 12 Level 1 NCEA credits in at least two subjects, or;
    • A pass in at least 2 School Certificate subjects, or;
    • A New Zealand Certificate in a relevant discipline at either Level 2 or Level 3, or equivalent 
  4. Consent to a Safety Check which meets the requirements of the Children Act 2014 (formerly known as the Vulnerable Children's Act) including: 
    • Provide two forms of verified ID and evidence of any name changes;
    • Consent to a Police vetting check;
    • Provide the names of two referees who Unitec can contact;
    • Pass a mandatory interview process;
    • Provide a Curriculum Vitae (CV) detailing a chronological summary of your work history for the past 5 years and the name of any professional organisations, licensing authorities and registration authorities that you have been, or are, a member of;
  5. Complete a self-declaration of criminal convictions and medical conditions form.

If you don’t meet the academic criteria above, we have a range of Foundation and Bridging Education programmes which will help you prepare for further academic study.  

English requirements

If English is not your first language you will also need at least 12 credits in English at NCEA level 1. 

If you don’t meet these requirements, you may still apply under special or discretionary entrance.

For more information download the programme regulations:

Programme Regulations

Courses and timetables

For more details on the courses including timetables, please click on the course names below.

Courses Credits Aim
Introduction to the Health and Wellbeing Sector (HCSP4401) 10.0 credits (0.083 EFTS) This course enable students to develop their preparedness for introductory work in the social, community and health service sector.
Knowledge for Practice (HCSP4402) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will enable students to develop an understanding of relevant knowledge, theory and models that relate to working with people in the social service, community and health workforce.
Working with People (HCSP4403) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course enables students to develop and apply their understanding of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and professional values and ethics when working alongside people with diverse needs and backgrounds.
Te Ao Hauora Maori (HCSP4404) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will enable students to relate the history of Māori as tangata whenua and demonstrate knowledge of person / whānau interconnectedness/ whakawhanaungatanga to their own role in the health and wellbeing setting.
Contemporary Issues in Health and Wellbeing (HCSP4405) 15.0 credits (0.125 EFTS) This course will enable students to develop knowledge and understanding of the diverse issues experienced in contemporary society of Aotearoa New Zealand
Mental Health and Addiction Support Practicum A (HCSP4406) 20.0 credits (0.167 EFTS) This course will enable students to examine and apply skills, values and behaviours that are congruent with knowledge and theories relevant for entry to the mental health and addiction workforce in a support level role.
Mental Health and Addiction Support Practicum B (HCSP4407) 30.0 credits (0.25 EFTS) This course will enable students to further develop, apply and integrate skills, values and behaviours that are congruent with knowledge and theories relevant to the mental health and addiction support workforce in a support level role.

Unitec is part of Te Pūkenga

On 1 October 2022 Unitec became part of Te Pūkenga. Find out more about Te Pūkenga and what this means for you.