Mental Health Social Worker

What is mental health social work?

Approximately 26 percent or suffer from a mental disorder every year, making mental health social workers a key factor in improving our overall wellbeing and mental health as a nation.

Mental health social workers spend much of their time supporting clients who have mental health disorders such as bi-polar disorder, depression, or anxiety. Treatment options include pharmacological, psychosocial therapy, family therapy, and education group therapy, or a combination of these treatments. Mental health social workers work with clients directly, or provide triage intervention and refer clients to other professionals or in-patient clinics.

There are also social workers that work specifically with the military members and their families. Military social workers provide immediate support to members of the armed forces and their families supporting issues such as reintegration to civilian life, care coordination, and PTSD. They are also heavily involved in macro social work, which includes policy development and program evaluation.

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs
Sponsored Online Social Work Programs
School Program Description
University of Denver
  • Research-driven faculty dedicated to making an impact on social problems
  • Prepares you to apply social work skills across practice settings
Fordham University
  • Four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy
Simmons University
  • Four Clinical Specializations: Child and Family, Trauma and Interpersonal Violence, Mental Health and Addictions, and Health and Aging
  • Three program tracks: Traditional, Accelerated, and Extended
Case Western Reserve University
  • From Case Western Reserve University’s top-10 ranked School of social work
  • Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks available
University of Southern California (USC)
  • Offered by USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck Shool of Social Work, a top-ranked graduate School by U.S. News and World Report
  • Features virtual and in-person field education in or near student's own communities
Baylor University
  • Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
  • Specialize in clinical practice or community practice

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

Where to find mental health social worker jobs:

As mentioned earlier, some mental health social workers that are involved in military social work may work on military bases or in a clinical setting. Other mental health social workers can be found in:

  • Community clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • HR departments of companies
  • Private practices
  • Primary care physicians
  • Community-based mental health centers
  • Addiction recovery centers
  • Government agencies

How can you become a mental health social worker?

The first step toward becoming a mental health social worker is applying to graduate schools that offer a Master of Social Work (also known as an MSW). In order to obtain a license to perform social work in the United States, you must attend a graduate school that is approved by the Council on Social Work Education. MSWs usually require two years of schooling coupled with two years of field practicum (or an internship). Many MSW programs will also accept candidates who have any liberal arts bachelor’s degree and offer students different tracks they can take in the social work field.

For example, our partner the MSW@USC program offers a mental health work concentration that includes classes on mental health research and practicums that focus on working directly with clients experiencing mental health issues. There are also sub-concentrations within the mental health social work field that allow students to tailor their studies even further, giving them the option to focus on highly specific fields of mental health social work, including military work and veteran services.

Further Reading