What is it?
Psychoeducation is education which is given to individuals with mental illnesses. The purpose of psychoeducation is to inform people about what their diagnosis is, how it’s caused and how it’s treated. Psychoeducation can come in many forms, such as a pamphlet or leaflet, feedback from screening scores, a website, conversations with your doctor or sessions with a therapist. Blue Pages is an example of a website providing psychoeducation for depression. Psychoeducation can also be given to friends and family of someone with a mental illness.
How does it work?
Psychoeducation promotes understanding about depression and can help the individual feel more in control of their health. It can reduce stigma about the illness and direct people to other treatment options that are available.
Is it effective?
A systematic review of three trials found that psychoeducation was more effective than a control (no treatment) in reducing depression symptoms. Participants in these trials were all adults and received a brief psychoeducation intervention (for example, they were asked to visit a website or were mailed out leaflets).
The effects of psychoeducation seems to be small, and long term outcomes are not clear.
Are there any disadvantages?
Where do you get it?
Blue Pages provides information about depression and depression treatments. Beyondblue also offers information about depression and other mental illnesses.
You can also ask a GP, psychologist or other mental health professional to provide education about depression. Most psychological therapies (for example, cognitive behaviour therapy) should include a psychoeducation component.
Psychoeducation can be a useful addition to other treatments for depression. It is not recommended as a standalone treatment.
- Donker, T., Griffiths, K. M., Cuijpers, P., & Christensen, H. (2009). Psychoeducation for depression, anxiety and psychological distress: a meta-analysis. BMC Medicine, 7(1), 1-9.
Last reviewed and updated: 1 December 2016