Certificate in Mental Health

Understanding mental health helps anyone working in personnel management, counselling, emergency services and health services. This course provides a foundation to enhance your career prospects.

Course CodeVPS028
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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Learn about Mental Health

Understand what is happening when life goes out of focus.


People are today more aware than ever of mental health. Some need a heightened understanding of mental health because they are dealing with mental health issues in either their work environment, or perhaps in their private life.
  • Perhaps you need to learn more because you have a relative or friend who has mental health issues
  • Perhaps you are the carer for someone with mental health problems
  • People who work in health and wellbeing service industries may be dealing with people who have these issues (perhaps on a daily basis, perhaps only occasionally).
  • Psychologists, counsellors, life coaches, fitness instructors, teachers, social workers, youth workers, prison officers, and other professionals may need to deepen their understanding of mental health in order to better deal with difficult positions that confront them at work.
When you understand psychological conditions and associated abnormal behaviours, you then have a foundation for dealing with those issues more appropriately.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Mental Health.
 Child and Adolescent Mental Health BPS214
 Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Disorders in Children and Adolescents BPS215
 Managing Mental Health in Adults BPS216
 Abnormal Psychology BPS307
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 10 modules.
 Anger Management BPS111
 Counselling Skills I BPS109
 Counselling Skills II BPS110
 Stress Management VPS100
 Aged Care and Counselling BPS212
 Counselling Techniques BPS206
 Developmental Psychology BPS210
 Criminal Psychology BPS309
 Crisis Counselling BPS304
 Psychopharmacology (Drugs & Psychology) BPS302

Note that each module in the Certificate in Mental Health is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What Makes People More or Less Active than "Normal"?

Hyperactivity is common in children. As many as one third of child are considered to be overactive by their parents. However, when hyperactivity is prolonged and persistent it may be diagnosed as a disorder. Typically, hyperactivity also encompasses marked inattention and so the more recent name for the disorder used by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases (DSM) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We shall use this terminology here, however it is worth noting that the ICD and DSM diagnostic criteria are slightly different as follows.

  • ADHD is regarded by the DSM as having an onset before age 7, but the ICD states before age 6.
  • The DSM allows a diagnosis if either hyperactivity and impulsiveness or inattention are present, whereas the ICD states both must be present. 
  • The DSM states that deficits must be present in either home or at school with an impairment in the other situation, whereas the ICD states that deficits must be present in both situations.

From these diagnostic criteria it is evident that more cases of ADHD would likely be diagnosed using the DSM criteria, and those diagnosed using the ICD criteria would have more severe impairments.

The ICD also distinguishes subtypes with:

  • Disturbance of activity and attention
  • Hyperactivity conduct disorder

The second subtype is used since many children have a hyperactivity disorder in conjunction with a conduct disorder. These children are likely to reach a less favourable outcome.

The DSM uses subtypes of:

  • ADHD, Combined Type (6 or more symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity)
  • ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type (6 or more symptoms of inattention but fewer than 6 symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity)
  • ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type (6 or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but fewer than 6 symptoms of inattention).

In each of the DSM subtypes symptoms must have been present for at least 6 consecutive months.

In adults and adolescents where symptoms do not meet the full DSM diagnostic criteria, a further subtype of ADHD, In Partial Remission may be used. 

Although some autistic children also exhibit hyperactivity and attention deficits a separate diagnosis of ADHD is not made since these behavioural impairments are considered to be a manifestation of their autistic disorder.


Both the ICD and DSM regard the key clinical features of ADHD to include:

  • Problems maintaining attention.
  • Extreme restlessness
  • Prolonged motor activity
  • Impulsiveness

Whilst these features may vary across situations so that different care givers, parents, teachers, and so forth may provide different accounts of behaviour there are some common features.

  • The symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity are more frequent and severe than those observed in peers of a similar developmental level.
  • The symptoms cause significant impairments in social, school or occupational functioning.
  • These features cannot be better accounted for by another mental health disorder. 

Discover How Physical and Mental Illness are Intertwined

Physical illness can be caused by emotional and psychological factors. Although traditional medicine focused on physical diseases, the contributions of Freud with his levels of consciousness, Pavlov and conditioned responses, and Cannon with his explanation of the fight-or-flight nervous system response introduced psychological factors and the notion of psychosomatic illnesses.

What is a Psychosomatic Illness?
The term 'psychosomatic illness' is most widely used to explain a physical illness with a known psychological cause, or at least which is significantly influenced by psychological factors. Many medical professionals acknowledge the influence of emotional factors in heart attack, hypertension, heart disease, stomach ulcers, asthma, eczema, and some other skin complaints. Even those who aren't convinced of a causal role would acknowledge that emotional responses will exacerbate symptoms of these physical problems.     

Psychological Factors, Accidents & Illness
There is a relationship between psychological factors, physical illness and accidents. For example, people who drink too much are more likely to be involved in road accidents. People who smoke and get lung cancer often have underlying emotional problems which cause them to smoke too much. Young men tend to be more aggressive than older men and are more likely to have accidents and injuries - they account for a higher percentage of road fatalities than other age and gender groups. People who struggle to control their body weight for psychological reasons are at higher risk of coronary heart disease and type II diabetes.


This course lays a foundation for working in a wide range of care and health professions.

  • For those who already have some qualifications or experience; it expands and deepens your professional expertise
  • For anyone new to these industries, it provides a basis for entering the industry, whether as an employee or in your own health or care related business.

What you learn here will expand your perception of mental health and where an understanding of mental health can be applied. As your awareness of the nature and scope of mental health grows; you will understand and see opportunities to apply this understanding in an ever increasing range of situations; for example -

  • Working as a care giver
  • Working in counselling
  • Youth work
  • Social services
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Health support services for practitioners, hospitals and else where.

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Tracey Jones

Widely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience. Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Lear
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
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