Mental Health Concentration | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
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Mental Health Concentration

This concentration prepares students with evidence-based assessment and treatment methods aimed at increasing functional capacity of individuals and systems addressing mental illness.

Throughout the curriculum, students are exposed to the latest trends in programs and treatments. Students are equipped with the skills necessary for developing responsive and comprehensive mental health systems at the local, regional and society levels.

Graduates are skilled in assessment and diagnosis, and they are familiar with evidence-based treatments appropriate for a range of diagnostic categories and populations. Alumni are qualified for careers in variety of settings, including clinical practice, community health centers, hospitals, forensic settings, private practice, policy settings and research.

The Mental Health concentration has four tracks:

  • Clinical Social Work: for students who plan to work with older adolescents or adults experiencing mental health conditions through a direct practice lens. 
  • Child Behavioral Health: for students who plan to work with children experiencing mental health conditions through a direct practice lens.
  • Integrated Behavioral Health: for students who plan to work in an integrated health setting or for students who want to provide behavioral health services in a clinical practice; students prepare to work with people experiencing severe and persistent mental illness and serious medical health issues.
  • Clinical Social Work in Substance Use Disorder Treatment: for students who plan to work with older adolescents or adults experiencing substance use disorders; graduates are able to earn certification for the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCC AP).
Curriculum requirements for each track are detailed below.

Concentration Requirements: 20 Credits

  • Theory Course (3 credits)
  • Policy Course (3 credits)
  • Three Practice Courses (3 credits each;  9 credits total)
  • Concentration Practicum (5 credits) 
The courses you choose will be determined by the Mental Health track you pursue:

Clinical Social Work

  • Contemporary Theories and Issues in Behavioral Health
  • Behavioral Health Policies and Services
  • Principles and Practices in Differential Diagnosis
  • Principles of Clinical Interventions in Behavioral Health
  • Principles, Practices, and Services in Substance Use Disorder Treatment 

CHILD BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

  • Theoretical and Empirical Bases for Practice with Children, Youth and Families
  • Behavioral Health Policies and Services
  • Principles and Practices in Differential Diagnosis
  • Social Work Practice with Youth in Families or Social Work Practice with Children in Families or Social Work Practice in Early Childhood
  • Contemporary Family Therapy or Core Concepts in Trauma Treatment with Children and Adolescents

INTEGRATED BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

  • Contemporary Theories and Issues in Behavioral Health
  • Behavioral Health Policies and Services
  • Principles and Practices in Differential Diagnosis
  • Interventions and Services in Integrated Behavioral Health
  • Principles, Practices, and Services in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK IN SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER TREATMENT

  • Contemporary Theories and Issues in Behavioral Health
  • Behavioral Health Policies and Services
  • Principles and Practices in Differential Diagnosis
  • Interventions and Services in Integrated Behavioral Health
  • Principles, Practices, and Services in Substance Use Disorder Treatment
  • This track requires that Foundation Practice (360 hours), Concentration Practicum (600 hours), and one elective practicum credit (120 hours) are completed in an approved substance use disorder setting. This requirement is necessary for earning NCC AP credentials.

You will also have 9 elective credits, which can be used to broaden your expertise in other areas or to pursue additional mental health-related electives, such as:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (3 credits)
  • Pharmacology for Social Workers (3 credits)
  • Contemporary Family Therapy (3 credits)

Concentration Practicum

The MSW program requires 600 hours of concentration practicum (in addition to 360 hours of foundation practicum). The concentration practicum must take place in a setting focused on mental health practice, management or advocacy. Sample Mental Health practicum sites include:

  • BJC Behavioral Health (community mental health center)
  • Children’s Advocacy Center of St. Louis (trauma-focused treatments)
  • Family Care Health Centers (integrated behavioral health)
  • Great Circle (non-profit with a mission of child-welfare and behavioral health)
  • Independence Center (severe and persistent mental health)
  • Missouri Institutes for Health (policy, advocacy, evaluation)
  • St. Louis Center for Family Development (trauma and suicidality)
  • St. Louis Veteran’s Affairs (veteran focused services)
Ryan Lindsay

Concentration Chair

Ryan Lindsay is  the Assistant Dean for Social Work and an associate professor of practice at the Brown School, where he also serves as the chair of the Mental Health concentration. A leader in clinical treatment of mental illness, Lindsay's academic and practice interests center around improving access ttrauma-informed and evidence-based mental health services.

Julie Blatz

Featured Graduate

“My passion is increasing access to mental health services. The most valuable part of my educational experience at the Brown School was the flexibility to personalize my curriculum. I was able to take classes that catered to my clinical focus, but that also gave me insight into policy and community organizing. I know that will be critical as I get further into my career.”



—Julie Blatz, MSW ’13, LICSW, Psychotherapist, Associated Clinic of Psychology