The BTMH program consists of three major components that will address critical domains for success in the Canadian mental health workforce. Research shows that immigrant professionals who develop the targeted knowledge and skills are far more likely to engage in meaningful employment commensurate with their training and experience. The three components are:
- Academic Instruction: Developing Contextual Knowledge and Skills for Professional Practice in the Ontario Mental Health and Additions Sector
This component enables bridge training participants to meet employer expectation by addressing specific gaps in knowledge and skills. Through classroom instruction, peer teaching and participatory learning, internationally trained professionals will engage in active learning of key knowledge and competencies for mental health practice in Ontario. An elective component allows for specialized learning in the fields of child mental health, adult mental health, cognitive behavioural therapy and addictions. A total of 160 hours of content courses and 66 hours of elective training will be offered.
- Occupation Specific Language Training: Practicing Professional Communication and Confidence
Participants will learn effective professional communication by engaging in dialogue, presentations, counselling and group facilitation role play, case documentation and report writing. Participants will practice every day workplace communication tasks, benefiting from immediate feedback in a safe and non-threatening environment. Participants will also learn about workplace culture for the mental health sector in Ontario. This component will be offered over a period of 200 hours spanning first and second semesters.
- Internships: Building Canadian Experience and Professional Networks
Bridge training participants who successfully complete classroom based learning in the first semester will be eligible to move on to the internship component of the program. Participants will complete 450 hours of supervised clinical work experience, supported by a weekly clinical seminar for discussion of professional learning and challenges. In order to help participants connect with internship opportunities in their area of professional interest, the BTMH program will conduct an internship fair to expose participants to potential internship opportunities with partner agencies in the mental health and settlement sectors. To date, confirmed internship sites include: Across Boundaries, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, Canadian Mental Health Association - Toronto, Hong Fook Mental Health Association, Mennonite New Life Centre, Rexdale Women's Centre and St Joseph's Hospital.
The Bridge Training Program will also support participants to build relationships with professional bodies and potential employers. BTMH staff will support bridge training participants to submit an application for general membership in the Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists. The BTMH program will also help to cover fees for membership and professional liability insurance.
In addition, bridge training participants will be exposed to sector specific employment workshops, and receive individualized support with job search, resume writing and interview preparation. Employment workshops will assist participants to evaluate labour market opportunities in the mental health field and develop a targeted career action plan.