Adult Mental Health and Wellness

Suzanne Wenzel, Chair
Department Overview

Adult Mental Health and Wellness prepares students to improve the mental health and physical well-being of individuals across the adult lifespan, from young adults to older adults. Students in this department are prepared to support adult clients within agencies, institutions, communities, families and other social and organizational contexts. This department is for students who want to become licensed clinical social workers helping adults with mental health, substance use disorders, trauma and medical issues, as well as prevention, recovery, wellness and health promotion.

Whether you are interested in treating veterans coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or providing support to homeless individuals with mental illness or victims of domestic violence, this department will train you in the most innovative, evidence-based approaches to mental and behavioral health care.

Skill Development

The department’s course work, tracks and hands-on field education training, equip students with a variety of skills, including:

Dawn Joosten-Hagye, Vice-Chair
Skill and Career Development
  • Client Assessment
  • Clinical Interventions such as:
    • Motivational Interviewing
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Problem Solving & Solution-Focused Therapy
    • Crisis Intervention, Brief & Trauma-Focused Therapies
    • Group Therapy
  • Treatment Planning
  • Integrated Care & Interdisciplinary Treatment Approaches
  • Documentation, Case Management and Resource Coordination
  • Cultural Competency
  • Ethical Decision Making
  • Data Collection & Research
  • Outcome Evaluation
  • Policy Advocacy, Analysis and Proposal Development
Sample Courses
Psychopathology and Diagnosis of Mental Disorder
Substance Related and Behavioral Addictive Disorders and Recovery
Neuropsychological Development
Loss, Grief and Bereavement
Brief Therapy and Crisis Intervention

Work Settings & Fields

The social work field is expected to grow by more than 700,000 from 2012-2021, a 19% growth rate that is faster than the average for all occupations. Many Adult Mental Health and Wellness students pursue licensure after they graduate. Some students become independent practitioners and others work for social service agencies, government agencies, non-profits, hospitals, clinics and for-profit treatment facilities, among other settings. Students often pursue clinical practice in fields such as:

Dexter Egleston, MSW’17
Student Experience
  • Mental Health
  • Military Social Work
  • Medical Social Work
  • Behavioral Health
  • Wellness Coaching
  • Substance Use Disorder and Recovery Treatment
  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Older Adult Care
  • Serious Mental Illness Early Intervention, Treatment and Recovery
  • Crisis Counseling
  • Forensic Early Intervention, Rehabilitation and Re-Entry Services
  • Intimate Partner and Family Violence Prevention and Intervention
  • Homeless Services and Supportive Housing
  • LGBTQ Advocacy
  • Integrated Care


The department’s curriculum focuses on the theories of human behavior, clinical practice and policy, emphasizing the role of neuroscience in the interaction of the mind, brain and body.

Students will learn how to use evidence-based research to inform clinical practices and interventions, while developing practice skills that prepare them for work in various health and mental health clinical settings. View the Curriculum Snapshot.


Students in Adult Mental Health & Wellness can customize their education experience by pursuing a military social work track. Tracks are not required to complete the MSW program. View the Tracks Curriculum.

Military Social Work Track

Field Placement

Working in the field with one of our many community partners gives students valuable real-world, hands-on experience that complements and enhances their classroom education. Students complete 1,000 hours of hands-on training, which amounts to 14-20 hours per week.

Sample field locations include:

  • Social Service Agencies
  • Government Entities
  • Hospitals
  • Community Organizations
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Treatment & Recovery Centers
  • Behavioral & Mental Health Providers
  • Clinics

Read more about our field placement requirements and opportunities.

Faculty Research

Department faculty members are engaged in a wide variety of research that informs our curriculum and policy. Many are affiliated with one or more of the school’s research centers and research clusters.
Sample research projects include:

  • Culturally sensitive interventions for Spanish-speaking Latino seniors with depression
  • Projection mapping technology to reduce risky behavior among crack cocaine users in Mexico City
  • Establishment of an academic center of excellence to build a workforce skilled in geriatrics
  • Mobile computing technology to help disabled seniors in Taiwan
  • Effectiveness of peer navigators helping people with mental illnesses take charge of their health
  • Risky HIV behavior and substance abuse following transition to permanent supportive housing
  • Value of community liaisons between low-income patients with depression and health care providers
  • Informed consent among Latinos with schizophrenia as a barrier to enrollment in clinical research