Applied Psychology

5 mental health courses you can study at SACAP

Apr 02, 2020 | By Signpost
5 mental health courses

These mental health courses develop skills that will play a fundamental role in tackling the country’s mental health crisis and healing the wounds of the past.

Key takeaways

  • South Africa’s mental health sector needs more manpower, and these courses provide the necessary training to pave the way for a career in mental health
  • Some of these courses are available online, allowing for flexible work hours and distance learning
  • The following mental health courses develop counselling and communication skills, and provide practical education, along with an understanding of counselling in a community context

To join the fight for South Africa’s mental health is to be at the front line of a war that will play a profound role in the nation’s fate. Statistics from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) show that as many as one-in-six South Africans suffer from depression, anxiety or substance abuse problems (and this does not include conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia). Furthermore, when crime and motor-vehicle accidents are taken into consideration, up to 6 million South Africans could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s clear that more manpower is needed. Mental health is a broad field, and whether you train as a psychologist, counsellor, social worker, or in one of the numerous other career paths on offer, there are many ways to play a role in alleviating South Africa’s mental health crisis.

5 mental health courses that prepare you for a career in mental health

SACAP – South Africa’s leading psychology and leadership college – offers a range of psychology and counselling courses that provide the training needed to pursue a career in mental health. Many of these courses are available online, allowing flexible hours and the option to work remotely.

Here are five mental health courses you can study at SACAP.

1. Higher Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills

What is it? This short course is designed to equip you with introductory knowledge and basic counselling and communication skills. Completion of the course qualifies you to pursue work as a support worker, while opening further study pathways, such as making you eligible for the Advanced Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills. The insight it provides into psychology and mental health can also benefit you in other industries, should you choose to pursue work outside the mental health sector.

Duration 1 year full-time (on campus); 2 years part-time (online)

Admission requirements

  • A National Senior Certificate with a minimum of 45% in English, OR
  • A Senior Certificate (pre-2008) with higher and/ or standard grade subjects with a minimum of 45% in English, or equivalent qualification
  • Mature students 24 years of age and older who do not meet the above requirements should provide a portfolio of evidence to support admission on the basis of SACAP’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy

Find out more about the Higher Certificate in Counselling and Communication Skills.

2. Diploma in Counselling and Communication Skills

What is it? This comprehensive qualification deepens your knowledge and insight in counselling, communication, psychology, human behaviour and community-based mental health. Students will develop counselling and interpersonal communication skills, including referral and management strategies, for application in the key areas of crisis and trauma and self-esteem and motivation. Through elective models they can also develop knowledge and skills in such areas as addiction counselling, working with children and adolescents, and sports psychology.

Duration 2 years full-time, 3 years part-time

Admission requirements 

  • A National Senior Certificate or National Certificate (Vocational) with a minimum of 45% in English coupled with an achievement rating of 3 (Moderate Achievement, 40-49%) or better in four designated subjects (including Life Orientation), or equivalent school-leaving qualification, OR a Senior Certificate (pre-2008) with a minimum overall D-aggregate (50%) with English passed at Standard Grade or better, or an equivalent school-leaving certificate, OR
  • A Higher Certificate (NQF level 5), a SAQA verified equivalent qualification, or Advanced Certificate in a cognate field.
  • Applicants 24 years of age and older who do not meet the above requirements should provide a portfolio of evidence demonstrating formal, informal, and non-formal knowledge, training, work experience, and/or learning equivalent to a National Senior Certificate (NQF level 4) to support admission into the programme on the basis of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Find out more about the Diploma in Counselling and Communication Skills

3. Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Majoring in Psychology and Counselling)

What is it? SACAP’s gold standard of social science qualifications, providing an excellent foundation that allows you to articulate into many different qualifications or career pathways.

Students gain a depth of understanding into psychology, mental health and people in a social context; psychological challenges and models for understanding behaviour and intervention; diversity and cross-cultural dynamics in the South African context; and ethics when working within the broad field of psychology.

The degree positions you for admission into an honours degree or postgraduate studies in psychology, the social sciences or related fields. 

Duration 3 years full-time; 5 years part-time

Admission requirements

  • A National Senior Certificate or National Certificate (Vocational) with an achievement rating of 4 (Adequate Achievement 50-59%) or better in four designated subjects (including Life Orientation), OR
  • A Senior Certificate (pre-2008) with Endorsement with English passed at Standard Grade or better, or an equivalent school-leaving certificate, OR
  • A Higher Certificate (NQF level 5), SAQA verified equivalent qualification, Advanced Certificate, or Diploma in a cognate field
  • Applicants 24 years of age and older who do not meet the above requirements should provide a portfolio of evidence demonstrating formal, informal and non-formal knowledge, training, work experience, and/or learning equivalent to an NQF level 5 qualification to support admission into the programme on the basis of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Find out more about the Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Majoring in Psychology and Counselling).

4. Bachelor of Psychology

What is it? This course provides an introductory understanding of psychology and mental health, and develops counselling and interpersonal communication skills, including referral and management strategies in accordance with the HPCSA’s guidelines for good professional practice. Real-world practical experience is incorporated into the programme.

Successful graduates will be eligible for admission into a master’s degree in psychology, the social sciences or related fields – both nationally and internationally.

Duration 4 years, full-time only

Admission requirements

  • A National Senior Certificate or National Certificate (Vocational) with an achievement rating of 4 (Adequate Achievement 50-59%) or better in 6 designated subjects including Mathematics/Mathematical Literacy and English, OR
  • Senior Certificate (Pre-2008) with Endorsement, with English and Mathematics/Maths Literacy passed at Standard Grade or better, or an equivalent school-leaving certificate, OR
  • A Higher Certificate (NQF level 5), a SAQA verified equivalent qualification, Advanced Certificate, or Diploma in a cognate field
  • Applicants 24 years of age and older who do not meet the above requirements should provide a portfolio of evidence demonstrating formal, informal and non-formal knowledge, training, work experience, and/or learning equivalent to an NQF level 5 qualification to support admission into the programme on the basis of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Find out more about the Bachelor of Psychology.

5. Master’s of Social Science in Community Mental Health Promotion

What is it? This course focuses on developing leaders who can strategically and innovatively address community mental health challenges and enhance community wellbeing. Community psychology will play a fundamental role in alleviating South Africa’s mental health crisis, and trauma counselling plays an essential role in healing communities.

The degree develops skills for policy development and advocacy around community mental health issues; at the same time building an entrepreneurial mindset in harnessing opportunities within community contexts. It’s an ideal course for those who hope to be an agent for change in communities, and promote mental health at a community level.

Duration 2 years, part-time

Admission requirements

  • A relevant Bachelor Honours Degree (NQF level 8), relevant Postgraduate Diploma or SAQA verified equivalent qualification in a recognised cognate field with a grade point average (GPA) of 65% or above
  • International candidates who seek admission into SACAP’s MSocSci (Community Mental Health Promotion) must have a degree equivalent qualification(s) that is/are deemed to be of an academic level as those listed above
  • Applicants 24 years of age and older who do not meet the above requirements should provide a portfolio of evidence demonstrating that they have reached a level in the subject or a cognate subject, that is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours Bachelor’s degree/NQF 8 qualification

Note This is not a professional programme and does not lead to registration with the HPCSA in any professional category of registration.

Find out more about the Master’s of Social Science in Community Mental Health Promotion.

Making a difference with mental health treatment

SACAP’s Counselling Hub in Woodstock is an example of the impact mental health workers can have. At R50 a session, it provides low-cost counselling services to underserved communities. This would be a good place to start for South Africans looking to make a difference in the mental health sector. For more information on careers in mental health and what they entail, as well as the courses that provide you with the necessary training, you can enquire now.

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