Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers


Salary Median (2020)


Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)

+16.8% (much faster than the average)

Most Common Level of Education

Master's degree


What Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Do

Assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.

Other Job Titles Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers May Have

Case Manager, Clinical Social Worker, Clinical Therapist, Clinician, Counselor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Mental Health Therapist, Social Worker, Substance Abuse Counselor, Therapist

How Leaders Describe a Typical Day at Work

Social worker/peer advocate

Seeing my clients and making their day a little better by visiting with them.

Graduate Student in Social Work ,

University of Southern California

Mondays through Wednesdays, I intern at a homeless shelter from 7:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. Each morning we serve breakfast to our patrons, who are mostly veterans. After that, we take on new cases and offer services and advice until lunchtime. After lunch, we work with our specific cases to help them find jobs and housing. After I leave the shelter, I have class from 6-9 p.m. I devote Thursday and Friday to working on my master's project, and on weekends, I try to get out of town and do some fishing.

Tasks & Responsibilities May Include

  • Counsel clients in individual or group sessions to assist them in dealing with substance abuse, mental or physical illness, poverty, unemployment, or physical abuse.
  • Collaborate with counselors, physicians, or nurses to plan or coordinate treatment, drawing on social work experience and patient needs.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress with respect to treatment goals.
  • Interview clients, review records, conduct assessments, or confer with other professionals to evaluate the mental or physical condition of clients or patients.
  • Supervise or direct other workers who provide services to clients or patients.

This page includes information from theO*NET 26.1 Databaseby the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under theCC BY 4.0license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.