Case One: Sandra
Sandra is a 42-year-old woman who has been brought into the hospital emergency
department via ambulance, following what appears to be a suicide attempt. She was found
by her husband Rick, who returned from work to find Sandra unconscious on the living
room floor with an empty box of sleeping medication beside her.
Rick reports that Sandra has been experiencing high levels of anxiety and a low mood over
recent months. Rick stated that she has taken considerable time off work, has not been
attending to her usual social activities, and has frequently been crying and worried. He
describes this as being out of character for Sandra, who was previously a bubbly and
outgoing person. He reports that they have been under considerable stress financially and
have been bickering over recent weeks.
Rick is clearly distressed and blames himself for not having spotted the deterioration in
Sandra’s mood. He was not aware that she had been prescribed medication for sleeping,
though the prescription box found with her is made out in Sandra’s name.
The immediate medical crisis has passed and the doctors have requested a mental health
assessment of Sandra before she can be discharged from hospital. You are the on-duty
social worker who attends to Sandra.
Case Two: Jen
Jen is a 24-year-old mother of two children, Lenny aged 8 and Annie aged 5. Jen has a
diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, which is reasonably well managed by medication
prescribed by her general practitioner. She has had several periods of case management
from the local mental health service, though is not a current client. Jen’s parents are
supportive and help where possible with raising Lenny and Annie, particularly on the
occasions when Jen’s mental health has deteriorated. The children’s father does not keep
in contact or support Jen and the children.
You are familiar with Jen and her situation, as she has been an irregular client of the
community mental health service where you work. You receive a call from child
protection who has responded to a report from the children’s primary school. School staff
expressed concern that Annie was increasingly looking “neglected”. She has frequently
been arriving late, without her lunch, and in inappropriate clothing for the weather
When trying to contact Jen, child protection workers state that she refused them entry to
the home. Jen appeared fearful and was making irrational statements about the child
protection staff attempting to persecute her. They have been unable to contact Jen’s
parents who appear to be on a caravan trip to central Australia at present. Child protection
workers are concerned that neither child has been seen at school for three days. They are
planning to return with the police and have called you to seek mental health support for
Case Three: Ethan
Ethan’s parents have contacted you with concerns about their eldest son. Ethan is 17 years
old and the eldest of three children. He was expelled from school twelve months ago
following several incidents of fighting and bullying, culminating in him being discovered
smoking marijuana on the school grounds with a group of friends.
Ethan’s parents are distressed and state they are at their wit’s end. Ethan has become
increasingly aggressive toward his younger siblings and has stolen money from his
parents. He frequently spends several days at a time away from home without contacting
them, returning dirty and unkempt. They describe Ethan’s friends as “losers and druggos”,
stating that Ethan was once a bright and well-engaged child who has changed dramatically
since he started to use substances.
Around 6 months ago Ethan was admitted to a psychiatric inpatient facility following a
brief drug-induced psychotic reaction while using methamphetamine. He ceased using
substances for a couple of months following this event, though has recently resumed using
marijuana. Ethan is becoming increasingly agitated, and demonstrating signs of paranoia
and high anxiety. Ethan’s parents have given him an ultimatum, to come and see you, a
dual diagnosis worker in the local community health service, to seek support for his
substance use and mental health symptoms or to leave the family home. Ethan has
grudgingly agreed to speak with you, though he bluntly states he is only there to get his
parents off his back and is not interested in giving up his friends or his use of substances.
Case Four: Ken
Ken is a 67-year-old man who lives with his wife, Margaret, on their farm in northern
Victoria. Ken and Margaret had hoped to retire in their late 60s and move to the coast to
be closer to their children.They reluctantly sold the family property that has been subject
to long years of drought and more recently, bushfires. They have struggled financially for
some years. Ken and Margaret have limited funds set aside to support their retirement, and
have been told it is unlikely that they would be successful in selling their farm quickly;
this being their core asset. They had been talking with a rural financial counsellor, and
recently with the bank manager, about the property’s increasing debt level. The ongoing
drought and the recent fires have meant they had to reduce stock numbers and now face
ongoing problems with the poor harvest and contaminated water on the property.
Ken also suffers chronic back pain from a farm injury of some years standing. The local
drought support worker has become concerned about Ken’s ability to cope with his
property and has visited Ken and Margaret a number of times due to problems with his
stock and pasture management. Margaret believes the farm is “too much for them now”,
but feels she can’t talk to Ken about this. Margaret has become extremely worried about
Ken’s emotional state. A friend of Ken and Margaret (a fellow farmer in the district) died
by suicide 6 months ago and Margaret is becoming worried about how Ken is coping. Ken
doesn’t get off the farm very often and has been drinking more than usual in recent
months. He appears to have lost interest in the property and his usual social activities.
Ken has become withdrawn and refuses to discuss the issue. He talks about there being
“no way out of this”, and that it “might as well be bloody over”. He sees his GP
infrequently, having difficulty travelling the distance to the nearby town. You are a rural
mental health counsellor who has received a referral to visit Ken at the farm.
Assessment item 3 – Case study discussion paper
Choose one of the case studies that will be provided and provide a discussion of the
case, including the below key points. The case studies will allow you to select from a
range of scenarios so that you can pursue an area of mental health that you are
interested in investigating further.
Your discussion of the case should include the following key points:
What key elements would you consider when conducting a social work
assessment in this case? You should consider the practice context and role of the
social worker in the scenario to guide your response.
How would you ensure that transparent decision making and respectful
partnerships are maintained with the person you are working with and their
What theories and approaches would inform your practice and treatment
decisions in this case?
What individual and structural challenges might arise for a social worker in this
scenario? How might these be overcome in practice?
There is no need for an introduction or conclusion, answering the four key points will
be sufficient. The word count does not have to be distributed equally across all of the
key points, however as a general rule it should be fairly close to equal in order to ensure
you have adequately addressed each section, as they are all weighted equally in terms
This assessment task will assess the following learning outcome/s:
be able to work in partnership with individuals, families, carers and other
Organisations to promote and respond to mental health and wellbeing.
be able to critically reflect on professional practice in contemporary mental
be able to respectfully plan and conduct assessments and interventions relevant
to common mental health conditions.
be able to understand the mental health system and the various roles that social
workers play in these environments.
You must use APA style for all referencing. For details, see:
No of pages: 7
No of references: 20
The references should be from per reviewed recognized articles for the period
Websites are not accepted at all In-text quotations are not accepted at all
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