Adult Mental Health and Wellness

Adult Mental Health and Wellness

The Department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness focuses on the mental health and physical well-being of young adults to seniors.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, mental health issues affect one in five American adults, and social workers are the largest group of clinically trained mental health providers in the country. Social workers who focus on health-related issues need to prepare to work with adults from 18 years old to end-of-life, helping with a range of issues, from drug abuse to elder care to health care policy.

As a student in the Department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness at USC's online MSW, you will study subject areas such as:

  • Mental health
  • Health and wellness
  • Substance abuse and recovery
  • Behavioral health care
  • Integrated care and the Affordable Care Act

Department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness graduates are prepared to work in a range of settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Community service organizations
  • Treatment and recovery programs
  • Government agencies


The Adult Mental Health and Wellness curriculum explores human behavioral theory with an emphasis on clinical practice and policy. You will consider the role of neuroscience as it relates to the mind-brain-body system as well as social systems, such as family, culture and community. Courses blend evidence-based research with hands-on experiences in clinical settings.

You will complete seven core courses, three electives and fieldwork. Explore the Adult Mental Health and Wellness Curriculum Snapshot


Research and Evaluation for Social Work with Adults and Older Adults
This course offers students the opportunity to further integrate research as an aspect of their professional identities by developing knowledge and skills in the critical analysis and application of various types of data, information and evidence in their work with adults and older adults.

Policy in Integrated Care
This course emphasizes how clinical social workers in mental health, health, behavioral health and integrated care settings can provide leadership in policy advocacy and participate in the policy-making process in organizational, community and legislative settings.

Assessing Wellness to Improve Recovery in Integrated Care
This course exposes students to current knowledge in mental health and health, wellness and recovery, holistic health, primary prevention interventions, co-occurring behavioral and physical conditions, as well as evidence-based integrated care interventions to improve the well-being of vulnerable populations in a new era of health care reform.

Explanatory Theories of Health and Mental Health
This course integrates explanatory theories of health and mental health, building on content from the first semester human behavior course. This integration recognizes that emotional and physical well-being are inextricably connected and transect societal risk factors such as racism, prejudice, poverty, sexism and stress.

Clinical Interventions: Evidence-based Practice in Health and Mental Health Settings
This clinical practice course builds on the foundation practice course. Knowledge regarding life cycle issues and developmental theory will be applied to the most recent advanced clinical practice models for mental health and health service populations. Students learn evidence-based and research-supported clinical intervention skills to work with individuals and their support systems.

This course prepares students for clinical supervision and consultation, development of clinical practice in administrative, programmatic and clinical supervisory positions in mental health, health and social/human services organizations serving adults and older adults.

Leadership and Management in Social Work
This course exposes students to leadership and management theories and evidence-based models to enhance social work practice in health and human service settings serving adults and older adults. Students learn about sources of leadership, as well as evidence-based management practices to effectively respond to organizations' challenges and opportunities.

Sample Electives

  • Assessment and Diagnosis of Mental Health Disorders
  • Brief Therapy & Crisis Intervention
  • Substance Related & Behavioral Addictive Disorders & Recovery
  • Domestic & Intimate Partner Abuse
  • LGBT Psycho/Social/Political Issues

Field Placement

As a student in the Department of Adult Mental Health and Wellness, you will complete one of your field placement requirements at a site in or near your community that supports your career goals. You can learn more about field placement here.

Program Tracks

You may choose to supplement your program with the following tracks:

You will be required to complete two additional courses in your chosen option.