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.

Students develop competencies for engaging, assessing, and intervening with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Primarily focused on developing clinical social work competencies, our students also leave the program equipped to lead policy and systems level changes necessary to cultivate equitable mental health systems and services. Students explore both dominant and critical theoretical and practice-oriented content in order to advance the accessibility of effective care and recovery-oriented interventions.

Working adults who need flexible scheduling may decide to pursue a Part-Time MSW with this concentration. Learn more about the curriculum structure and application process.

Alumni work in a wide range of settings, including community mental health centers; hospitals; private practice; and forensic, policy and research settings.

The Mental Health concentration has three 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.
  • 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.


  • Contemporary Theories and Issues in Behavioral Health  (3 credits)
  • Behavioral Health Policies and Services (3 credits)
  • Management and Leadership of Organizations (3 credits)
  • Social Policy Analysis and Evaluation OR Evaluation of Programs and Services (3 credits)
  • Three practice courses (3 credits each; 9 credits total)

The specific theory, social policy and practice courses you choose will be determined by the Mental Health track you pursue, see below:


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


This track requires the theory course: Theory and Empirical Bases for Practice with Children, Youth, and Families

  • Principles and Practices in Differential Diagnosis
  • Social Work Practice with Youth in Families OR Social Work Practice in Early and Middle Childhood
  • Contemporary Family Therapy OR Core Concepts in Trauma Treatment with Children and Adolescents


This track requires that Foundation Practicum(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.

This track requires the social policy course: Substance Use Policy

  • Harm Reduction Community Practice
  • Principles and Practices of Differential Diagnosis
  • Principles, Practices, and Services in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

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)


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:

  • Veteran Affairs Medical Center (veteran focused services)
  • Children’s Advocacy Center of St Louis (trauma-focused treatment)
  • Perinatal Behavioral Health Services (hospital-based and community mental health treatment)
  • Behavior Health Network (BHR) (crisis helpline)
  • Provident (crisis helpline and mental health treatment)
  • Harris House Foundation (substance abuse treatment)
  • The Community Reach (community-based mental health treatment)
  • Healing Action Network (trauma-focused treatment)
  • Annie Malone Children & Family Services (foster care mental health)
Ryan Lindsay

Concentration Chair

Ryan Lindsay is 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 to trauma-informed and evidence-based mental health services.


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.”