In mental health social work, professionals often partner with clients with diverse mental health needs in order to ensure that they are receiving the right type of services and treatment for their diagnosis. The degree programs that prepare learners for this type of career can be found at a wide variety of universities at both the bachelor's and master's level.

Mental Health Social Work Programs

When first enrolling in a mental health social work degree program, you might begin with gaining insight into the field of social work and its overall purpose. The history of social work and the current responsibilities of professionals in this field can allow you to explore your mission in this field and your methods for reaching those that you serve.

This can give you a starting point for higher learning, as well as a focus point for your services in the future. These programs may then focus on the different types of mental illnesses and struggles that people can face in society and pinpoint some of the symptoms that might hold people back from seeking support from others.

As you move through a social work programs, you can be faced with challenges to overcome based on your knowledge of social work and your practice with different tools. Some colleges may also give you the option of participating in internships, which can show you what social work practice looks like in a real-world environment.

Like most other degree programs, your experience can be unique depending on the university you choose. In this guide, our team takes a look at mental health social work from an expert perspective in order to help you discover how to become involved in it.

Online Mental Health Social Work Degree Programs

Technology can play an important role in your education. Most educational programs nowadays consist of some assortment of online tools, while others are offered completely in the online setting. Online degree programs in mental health social work could provide you with what you need to succeed in the field without ever requiring you to leave your own home. If you are interested in seeing more about online degree programs, you should research what is available near you and read more about the examples provided in this guide.

Online mental health social work degree programs that have been accredited for licensure can provide you with a reliable curriculum that can enhance your opportunities as a professional social worker in the field. Accreditation can also provide you with confidence in your degree program, since it ensures that your program has been reviewed and approved by its governing agencies. Completing these programs and participating in the required supervised independent experience hours can lead to certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, which can allow you to provide counseling services to the people you serve.

Learning in the online setting can allow you the freedom to schedule study times and homework around your own personal schedule without the need for unnecessary accommodations. Engaging in classes online can also increase your own personal self-discipline and help you learn methods for managing your own time and learning experiences.

If you would like to see more about some of the programs that can be found in the online setting, check out the programs provided by our team in the sections below.

Bachelor’s in Mental Health Social Work Degrees

The path to mental health social work begins with a reliable online bachelor’s degree. Online BSW programs have been created in an effort to get more educated and qualified professionals in the field to help with the large number of mental health clients currently in the U.S. Through online learning at this degree level, you can learn the basics of social work practice, as well as the techniques used to coordinate effective services for patients in a clinical setting. BSW programs that have receive accreditation can also lead to your licensure as a bachelor’s level social worker. Take a look at some of the open programs chosen by our team in the list following below.

  • Asbury University – Online Bachelor of Social Work: When seeking a reliable online BSW program, you should consider programs like those at Asbury University. This online BSW program entices learners with a curriculum focused on evidence-based practice, effective research, and the application of proven-effective skills in the field. This program may require students to engage in around 4 years of learning, which can lead to licensure as a LBSW.
  • Boise State University – Online Bachelor of Social Work: Boise State University is a well-known university that can provide students with reliable options for their BSW experience. The online BSW offered by this school was designed for upcoming social workers interested in entering the field after graduation or moving forward into MSW program after completion. Students can expect around 3-4 years of courses in this program which includes both general education components and social work specific courses.

Master’s in Mental Health Social Work Programs

The master’s level is where students can truly delve deep into their chosen specialization. Online MSW programs with a mental health specialization can consist of courses that explore the different variations of mental illness and disorders as well as look at the most effective modes of treatment provided to clients in a clinical setting. Students in these programs can also learn more about the supportive services in the community that can increase the effectiveness of mental health treatment and find ways to integrate families into the treatment process. Here are a few of the most popular online MSW programs and providing them below for you to review.

  • The University of Southern California – Online MSW – Adult Mental Health and Wellness: The online MSW – Adult Mental Health and Illness program offered by USC can be an excellent option for new master’s students looking to positively change the lives of adults within society. This program teaches effective assessment skills, program evaluation, leadership, and diagnosis and treatment. Through 2-3 years of extensive and deep learning, this program can provide you with the knowledge you need to become licensed in this field.
  • Simmons University – Online MSW – Mental Health and Addictions: Since mental health can be greatly influenced by addiction, Simmons University has provided a unique online MSW program that focuses on these areas. The drug crisis in the U.S. has warranted the need for more social work professionals with more knowledge about addiction and the different forms of treatment that may be available to thwart it. This program can consist of around 2 years of course work that can help you become licensed after a supervised clinical experience requirement.
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Common Courses for Mental Health Social Work MSW Programs

If you really want to know what professionals in the field of mental health social work do, you could browse through the curriculum of online MSW programs in this specialized area in order to see exactly what professionals in this field yearn to know. Each course provides relevant information to students with the desire to work in this field and even offers practical experiences as a method of further integrating this knowledge into the minds of enrolled learners. The courses that you take during your program were created as a means of connecting you with the population that you may work with so that you can provide them with the best quality of service currently available. As you read through the courses below, try to imagine how these topics can be applied with real clients in the field.

  • Evaluation in Social Work Practice: Students interested in working in mental health practice can benefit from courses that establish protocol for the evaluation process on both an individual and agency level. This course outlines the principles of evaluation pertaining to needs assessments, the treatment process, and the overall outcome of treatment for clients in the professional setting. Students are also encouraged to explore the fundamentals of practice within their setting in order to establish goals for treatment in the future.
  • Social Work with Groups: As a mental health social worker, you may work with individuals or groups in the clinical setting. This course outlines the dynamics of working with groups in the mental health setting, as well as the treatment models and methods that are most effective in this setting. Methods to bring clients together for growth, establishing a connected relationship, and empowering members for social change are just a few of the topics that may be discussed as you move through this online course.
  • Mental Health in Social Work: As a clinical professional in mental health social work, it is important for professionals to be knowledgeable about the historical foundations and biological influences relevant to mental illness. This course outlines some of the common diagnoses in mental health, chosen assessment methods for varying age groups, and treatment methods for both individuals, families, and groups. This course can sharpen your abilities to effectively diagnose and treatment mental illness with a goal of normalization and societal integration.

Why Mental Health Social Work?

Mental health social work is an extremely important career field that may require more professionals as the years progress. This field seeks to de-stigmatize mental illness in a way that support community support and involvement. Social workers in this field can work with clients that have been diagnosed with a wide array of different mental illnesses in order to ensure that they receive adequate medical care, family support, and connections to their community. If you are interested in becoming a mental health social worker, you should also have the desire to help people around you, a strong work ethic, and the ability to deduce problems in order to find helpful solutions.

When entering into this field, you might find that mental health social workers can be found in many different professional settings. Social workers can be employed by mental health facilities focused on effective treatment planning and interventions, court systems that are seeking positive progress for people struggling with addiction, or even in government agencies that serve families or individuals of all ages. Each of these areas could benefit from the involvement of educated mental health social workers.

Combining the fields of mental health with a focus in social work can not only improve the quality of life for the individuals being served, but also for the community as a whole. Professionals that can help coordinate the services of people in the community can be a great resource for overall community improvement and public health. As society progresses into a more accepting and supportive entity, more and more mental health social workers may be needed to work with clients as they transition into normalcy.

Common Mental Health Social Work Careers

Moving through the online MSW in Mental Health can be a great accomplishment for students at this level. There may be an abundance of career options available for social workers that have successfully passed all courses within their program as well as engaged in supervised internships required for licensure. Open positions in social work can provide you with the opportunity to gain experience so that you can continue to move up the ranks in the agency that you are employed with.

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If you have your license and are ready to pursue employment in the field, you can look for a career in some of the most popular fields in the U.S. Mental health social workers can be employed by major mental health providers as resource coordinators or even counselors, by the government when needed to work with families that are struggling with mental illness, or even in major medical facilities. Some professionals interested in this field have also pursue work in private practice – assisting those in their community gain access to the services they need. You have the opportunity to choose your path in your career once you have gained all of the required education and received your license as a social work professional. Our team has listed some common career titles and salaries beneath this section for your information.

  • Social Workers – all, other: $63,010 on average per year. 
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: $57,800 on average per year. 
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: $53,490 on average per year. 

2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Social workers (All, other; and Mental Health and Substance Abuse), and Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2023.