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School of Social Work

Mental Health Services Area of Focus Requirements

MSW students choose their area of focus the spring semester of their Foundation Year. The focus area occurs in the Concentration Year, the final year of a student’s MSW programming. 

The MSW focus on Mental Health Services provides students knowledge and skills for a career in service to persons of all ages who are at risk or experience mental health challenges. The focus area includes coursework on behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) and integrated health care (behavioral health and primary care). 

Internships are available throughout the CSU, Chico service region. Sites include community and regional-specific behavioral health programs, primary care agencies, outreach programs, legislative and advocacy programs, and other agencies that provide services for individuals and families who are experiencing behavioral health challenges.

Students are provided job-seeking skills training and information on employment positions. Graduates may be employed (for employment link) in community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, regional centers, drop-in centers, alcohol and substance abuse programs, and a variety of other social service agencies.

The Social Work course offerings(opens in new window) required for the MH area of focus includes:

  • SWRK 641: Advance Practice in MH Services
  • SWRK 654: Social policy in MH Services
  • SWRK 678: Mental Health Recovery and Wellness
  • SWRK 648 & SWRK 658: Advanced Field Seminar

One of the following courses:

  • SWRK 677: Substance Use and Abuse
  • SWRK 673: Trauma and Loss (if have previous Substance Use/Abuse coursework or work experience—approval needed)


  • Public Mental Health placement (MH Stipend required)
  • Integrated Health Care-Transitional Age Youth placement
  • Specialized trainings (MH Stipend required)

Mental Health Stipend Programs

Two Mental Health Stipend Programs are currently offered for Concentration Year students interested in Mental Health:

  • MH Stipend Program (funding ends spring 2016)
  • Behavioral Health Services (BHS)-Transitional Age Youth (TAY) MSW Workforce Training Program (grant funded for three academic years – ending spring 2017)

Applications for both internship opportunities will be posted on this website March 10th of each academic year. The application deadline is May 5th of each year.  Interviews will occur approximately weeks following the application deadline. Note: Students must have an internship secured in a MH Stipend or BHS-TAY site to be accepted into the stipend program.