The place for psycho-education in the treatment of psychiatric disorders appears to be growing. While lip service has often been paid to educational interventions for psychiatric patients, it is really only in the last decade that evidence has been systematically gathered as to its role(s) and effectiveness. Overall educational interventions appear to improve primary care medical workers' (general practitioners, nurse practitioners and the like) detection of, as well as attitudes towards, mental illness, though there is little evidence, with respect especially to ‘milder’ mood disorders, that these interventions change the ultimate outcome of the disorder. Further, they do not, at this time, appear to impact patients' and their families' dislike of pharmacological treatment. Educational interventions in severe and persistent mental illness, especially if patients themselves are involved in the education either as teachers or participants, will reduce stigma towards the illness, but again the reduction in stigma does not translate into better or improved health outcomes. But in severe mental illness, psycho-education, particularly involving problem-solving and motivational interviewing, delivered to patients, other care workers and families appears to reduce rates of relapse and readmission to hospital.
Educational interventions for mental illness may be provided for patients and carers, the general public or health professionals. They may seek to affect knowledge, skills or attitudes.
With regard to common affective disorders:
There is evidence of effectiveness, particularly in reducing symptoms and severity of depression, for psycho-education delivered to patients through a variety of means.
Public education can change some attitudes towards the illness itself though antipathy to drug treatment appears difficult to alter.