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Office of Mental Health

Schools of Social Work Deans' Consortium Project
for Evidence-Based Practice in Mental Health

Brief description of Project background:
In January 2001, a formal partnership was established between the NYS Association of Deans of Schools of Social Work and the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH), the OMH – Deans: the New York State Office of Mental Health – Schools of Social Work Deans’ Consortium for Evidence Based Practice in Mental Health.  The University at Buffalo School of Social Work was selected to coordinate the project, resulting in the establishment of the University at Buffalo Coordinating Center (UBCC). The primary goal of the Consortium was to design and implement an overall workforce development plan that strengthens and builds the knowledge and skills of New York’s mental health workforce to deliver evidence-based treatment and services.

The specific objectives of the Consortium's Evidence-based Practice in Mental Health Project (EBP Project) were to:

  • Infuse the knowledge of evidence-based and recovery focused practice into the curriculum and field placements associated with the Schools of Social Work.
  • Influence the practice and policy of mental health programs to include evidence-based and recovery focused mental health services by enhancing the capacity of existing practitioners and supervisors.
  • Implement regional initiatives to increase enrollment of mental health services staff in MSW and BSW programs, resulting in a work force competent in evidence-based practice.

Current Project description and goals:
The primary goal of the affiliation is to prepare masters level social work students to enter a changing workforce that focuses on empirically validated treatments for individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness. In order to foster confidence in their ability to practice with this challenging population, the project aims to increase their familiarity with evidence based approaches, as well as the requisite skills and knowledge to deliver them.

Currently, the project works with twelve participating NYS Schools of Social Work to offer MSW students an opportunity to participate in a multi-modal educational experience that focuses on specific approaches to evidence-based practices for adults with a diagnosis of serious and persistent mental illness.  Through a specially designed project course curriculum, and selected field placements, students will participate in an integrated learning approach to the following evidence–based practices approved by the NYS OMH:

  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)
  • Wellness Self- management (WSM)
  • Supported Employment
  • Family Psycho-education
  • Co-occurring Disorders Treatment/Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment (IDDT)

Within each school, there is a designated faculity project director who coordinates project components and serves as liaison with OMH and UBCC staff.  Participating schools receive modest financial support to fund student awards, faculty honoraria and speakers fees for the colloquia series.  A certificate and a small financial incentive are offered to selected students who satisfy the award requirements by completing all components of the project internships.

Overview of Project Components

  • A comprehensive master's level social work course in evidence-based practice in mental health, which was initially developed by faculty from five of the participating schools of social work together with OMH and UBCC, including a syllabus and curriculum guide. This course is updated and revised periodically by participating faculty to ensure that is current and comprehensive. It is slated to be revised again in the spring of 2011.
  • A minimum of four project colloquia are coordinated by the faculty directors or their colleagues within each participating school that provide an opportunity for students to apply and connect the course content and material to their field experience.
  • Participation in an evidence-based practice field placement/internship which is provided through specially designated OMH approved field placement sites. At each field site, students will have the opportunity for first hand learning and practice in at least one of the approved EBPs.

For more information, please send questions to: Social Work EBP Project.