Career Paths

Mental Health and Addiction

Supporting New Zealanders who experience mental distress and addiction, can be both a challenge and a rewarding, lifelong career.

Hard working and compassionate mental health and addiction support workers provide companionship, advice, guidance and support to people living with mental distress and addiction.

What does the job involve?

As a support worker you’ll be using your ability to relate with others, foster hope, support recovery and build resilience in people with mental distress and addiction issues. You’ll be working alongside other professionals like social workers, addiction counsellors, police and health practitioners to support a person's goals. Engaging with whānau and family is an important part of the job.

What skills do you need?

You don’t need formal qualifications at first. It’s more about being the right sort of person, and having the passion to learn and train on the job.

  • Supportive, understanding and caring
  • Practical, organised and responsible with good time management
  • Have problem solving skills
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Relate well to a diverse range of people
  • Have the ability to work both as part of a team and with other professionals

There are plenty of career opportunities and employers who will support your training to help you get qualified, and with an expectation to achieve a level 4 qualification (which also supports higher pay as a result of the mental health & addiction support worker pay equity settlement)

More information from Careerforce about qualifications in the mental health and addiction support sector.

What roles are available?

Initially you’ll find yourself in roles like these:

  • Mental Health Support Worker
  • Community Worker
  • Community Support Worker
  • Peer Support Worker/Specialist

More advanced roles include:

  • AOD Clinician
  • Registered Mental Health Nurse/Case Manager
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Child, Adolescent and Family Services
  • Mental Health Forensic Services
  • Registered Nurse supporting Youth and Adults
  • Mental Health Rehabilitation

More advanced roles in Mental Health and Addiction Support work will benefit from a Level 5 qualification and higher.

Our Stories

Alex & Chris

After leaving a high-pressure sales job, Alex discovered a new life as a mental health and addiction support worker. He’s now supporting Chris to lead an independent life.

What are you waiting for?
Start looking for a job now!

Many employers will support on-the-job training where you’ll have the opportunity to earn as you learn, get practical skills and work towards achieving a nationally recognised qualification without taking on a student loan.

Check out these sites to find the right job for you!