Concentration and Courses
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
The emotional and financial impact of mental illness and substance abuse on consumers, family members, communities and the nation constitutes a major health and social problem. The National Institute of Mental Health (2009) estimates 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older one in four adults or 57.7 million people (2004, U.S. Census) experience a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Approximately 6 percent or 1 in 17 of this group live with serious mental illness, and nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008-09) anticipates the need for mental health and substance abuse social workers will grow by 30 percent. The urgent need for well-trained behavioral health workers is identified by the National Action Plan on Behavioral Health Workforce Development (2006).
Concentration Conceptual Framework and Curriculum
The Behavioral Health Concentration’s (BHC) goal is to develop and deepen knowledge and skills relevant to the critical roles social workers play in assessment, treatment planning, service delivery, consumer advocacy, culturally resonant practice, evaluation of services and policy development in behavioral health. Utilizing the advanced year practice framework, the BHC’s educational objectives were designed to accomplish this goal as well as the advanced year learning outcomes.
BHC courses (SW724 and 725) integrated with field instruction prepare students for contextualized social work practice with individuals experiencing severe and persistent mental illness and accompanying substance abuse issues. This re-empowerment oriented, client-centered approach, purposefully addresses the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission Report on Mental Health, emphasizing consumer recovery, collaborative treatment planning, elimination of service barriers, and evidence-based, best practices that are culturally resonant.