Mental Health in Social Work

The Mental Health concentration builds upon the generalist first-year curriculum and provides students with state-of-the-art knowledge, skills, and values for practice in today’s mental health settings. Students gain expertise in performing ecological, or “person in environment” assessments (case formulations) and micro, mezzo, and some macro level interventions with client populations across the lifespan. Content includes practitioner’s conscious use of self, sensitivity to diversity, intervention and prevention strategies, artistic and scientific approaches, and multi-disciplinary and community-based teams. Both innovative and traditional methods of practice are explored.

With social workers now providing over 80% of the mental health services in the country, social workers graduating from this concentration have a variety of practice settings to explore during their career. Students prepare to work in both inpatient and outpatient settings, in rural and more urban locations. Students are be encouraged to view themselves as scholar-practitioners who can inform their practice through the use of practice-based evidence (PBE) techniques and the scholarship of evidence-based practice (EBP).

Students in the Mental Health concentration take two required introductory courses, that total 6 hours of required credit hours.. The first required class, taught in the fall semester, covers the broad scope of mental health practice with children and adolescents. Students learn how to engage in, assess, intervene in, and evaluate mental health practice with children and adolescents, and with their families and communities. A social work perspective is taken, that includes the strengths perspective, multi-cultural competency, eclectic practice, and ecological theory. Students study DSM diagnoses of children and adolescents, through the lens of social work values and theory. This course also considers the interrelationship between mental health and such issues as addictions, criminal behavior, physical health, and evolving local and global conditions. Students from other concentrations (such as Aging and Global social work and Public Social Services and Addiction work) are welcome to also take this class for elective credit.

The second required class in the spring semester shifts the broad focus to mental health practice with adults and aging populations. Students learn how to engage in, assess, intervene in, and evaluate mental health practice with adults and the aging, and with their families and communities. A social work perspective is taken, that includes the strengths perspective, multi-cultural competency, eclectic practice, and ecological theory. Students study key DSM diagnoses of adults and the aging, through the lens of social work values and theory. This course also considers the interrelationship between mental health and such issues as addictions, criminal behavior, physical health, gerontology, and evolving local and global conditions. Students from other concentrations (such as Aging and Global social work and Public Social Services and Addiction work) are welcome to also take this class for elective credit.

Mental Health students are also be required to take two elective classes (for a total of 4 four credit hours minimum) from an approved list. These elective credits must be in classes that have substantial practice content. Students may also select an Advanced Practice class from another concentration as an elective credit.

Objectives

Graduates of this concentration are able to:

  • Competently engage, evaluate, intervene, and evaluate in mental health practice, with individuals, couples, families, and groups, representing clients across the life span.
  • Employ a full life span practice perspective that recognizes the interrelated dimensions of human development including physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual.
  • Employ an ecological perspective in assessment and intervention, which recognizes that individual development is influenced by the individual’s environment including family, culture, community, natural environment, and global contexts.
  • Assess and intervene from a strengths perspective that is sensitive to client diversity and issues of oppression and discrimination.
  • Recognize that clients face multiple challenges (e.g., mental health, physical health, occupational/educational, substance abuse, legal) that often require multiple-level responses from multidisciplinary teams of professionals and other community members.
  • Summarize the importance of professionals and other community members.
  • Select intervention strategies that differentially fit the needs and characteristics of the client system identified in assessment.
  • Develop and utilize conscious-use-of-self in establishing effective helping relationships.
  • Describe the role of culture, class, geography and gender in access to and utilization of mental health services in Utah, the United States, and international settings.
  • Apply and critique the NASW Code of Ethics in assessment and interventions in mental health practice settings.
  • Effectively resolve ethical and value-based challenges in practice.
  • Utilize practice-based evidence and evidence-based practice strategies to inform their practice in mental health settings.

Mental Health in Social Work Concentration Program of Study Guide

Types of Mental Health Practicum Placements: Inpatient, residential and outpatient mental health programs serving children, adolescents, adults and/or older adults and their families.

For more information, please contact:
David Derezotes, PhD
Chair, Mental Health in Social Work Concentration
david.derezotes@socwk.utah.edu
801-585-3546