Foundations of Community Mental Health Work Practice

Health Sciences
Health Care Support Work
Course Code
HCSW 1155
Semester Length
10 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course introduces foundational perspectives and current legislation relevant to community mental health work practice. Historical beliefs and approaches to mental illness will be presented. The focus of the course is to provide theory on current best practices in mental health care and treatment. Legal and ethical issues related to individuals, families and populations experiencing mental health challenges will be presented, including an introduction to ethical decision-making frameworks for managing practice related ethical dilemmas.
Course Content

Social, cultural, spiritual, and environmental influences on individuals’ experience of health and mental health are discussed. Legal and ethical issues, dilemmas related to mental health and CMHW/HCSW practice will be covered along with the role and responsibilities expected in CMHW/HCSW practice.  Theories related to infection control, body mechanics, medical asepsis and personal care will be presented. 

Specific concepts that will be addressed are:

  • Historical views of mental illness and treatment
  • Best practices of mental health care
  • Mental health promotion and prevention
  • Common medical and physiological conditions relevant to mental health
  • Social, cultural, spiritual, and environmental influences on mental health and wellness
  • Marginalized and vulnerable populations
  • Social determinants of health and mental health
  • Cultural sensitivity and cultural humility
  • Trauma informed perspectives for CMHW practice
    • Self care
    • Stigma, prejudice, racism
  • Ethics of Care
    • Ethical issues
    • Ethical dilemmas
    • Ethical decision-making frameworks
  • Infection control and medical asepsis in CMHW practice sites
  • Personal care approach with clients experiencing mental health challenges
  • Body mechanics 
  • Mental Health Act (MHA) and current relevant legislation 
Learning Activities

 CMHW/HCSW faculty facilitate student learning through a variety of learning activities which may include:

  • Case studies
  • Group activities
  • Group discussions
  • Computer assisted learning programs
  • Use of electronic resources
  • Use of audiovisual aids
  • Guest speakers
Means of Assessment

Course evaluation is consistent with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy.  An evaluation schedule is presented at the beginning of the course.

This is a graded course.  

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the learner will be able to:

  • Understand the relevant foundational perspectives, the frameworks and legislation for providing care to individuals experiencing mental health challenges
  • Demonstrate the relevance of a trauma informed and culturally sensitive approach in working with individuals experiencing mental health challenges
  • Understand the critical importance of engaging in personal self-care
  • Understand the role of the Community Mental Health Worker (CMHW) and Health Care Support Worker (HCSW) in the promotion of health and mental health with individuals experiencing mental health challenges
  • Comprehend and apply principles related to managing ethical dilemmas utilizing an ethical decision-making framework
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

A list of required and optional textbooks and materials is provided for students at the beginning of each semester. 



Courses listed here must be completed prior to this course:

  • No prerequisite courses



Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HCSW 1155
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Winter 2023