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Worry and goal statements

A good worry statement about mental health includes:

  • who is worried about the mental health issue and the child
  • what they are worried about — behaviours, emotions and actions
  • how the behaviour impacts the child.

Good worry statements can:

  • help explain how a parent’s behaviour can impact the child
  • name who is worried and does not agree with what is happening.

Developing worry statements

Avoid worry statements that name only the diagnosis or mental health issue. For example: ‘We are worried that Jenny is depressed’ or ‘We are worried about the kids because Jenny has depression and borderline personality disorder’.

Describe why the group is worried about the parent’s mental health and how this impacts the children.

Examples of worry statements

'Alison and Jake are worried that when Jenny has thoughts that the neighbours are spying on her, she becomes violent and aggressive. This behaviour makes the kids scared and at risk of being physically hurt by Jenny.'

'Jessica is worried that Paul drinks a lot of alcohol to manage his feelings of worry and depression. When he drinks too much or when he becomes depressed, Paul does not have the energy to look after Amy and Hayley. This means that sometimes Hayley and Amy don’t get to school, don’t eat well and do not have a safe home.’

'The team is worried that Tammy invites strangers into the family home because she makes friends with people so quickly. These people are not always safe and they might physically or sexually abuse Zac.’

When to write goal statements

Good goal statements will outline:

  • who is part of the family’s network and/or the plan
  • what actions will be taken by the parent, carers or network to address the worry statement
  • how long the behaviour will need to be demonstrated for Child Safety to be confident the behaviour will continue.

Example goal statements

‘Paul will work with Child Safety and his safety and support network to develop a plan that will show everyone that he is seeking support to learn ways to manage and improve his tolerance of feelings that make him uncomfortable in the context of parenting, so he will be able to discipline the children in a respectful way. Paul is to attend the next 10 sessions with his psychiatrist, who will then review his treatment plan.’ 

‘Paul will work with Child Safety and his safety and support network to develop a plan that will show everyone that he can stay on his medication as prescribed by his doctor. This will help keep his mood stable, so he is able to make good parenting decisions that ensure the children get to school, have clean clothes to wear and have a routine of consistent meals and bedtimes.’ 

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