Psychoeducation is a term to describe education about mental health issues. The education may be at a societal level to increase public understanding of mental health. However, in the context of treatment it typically refers to education that is directed at those experiencing mental health problems and/or their family members. Because depression is frequently misunderstood, education can be an important component to effectively treating it. A goal of psychoeducation is to help those experiencing depression and their loved ones better understand the ways depression can impact a person as well as what to expect from various options for treatment. Several studies have shown that use of psychoeducation with family members is associated with better recovery from depression (Sanford et al., 2006; Shimazu et al., 2011).
How Does Psychoeducation for Depression Work?
Psychoeducation is designed to help de-stigmatize depression and to help people to feel more engaged in and committed to their depression treatment. For example, learning about some of the lesser known symptoms of depression may enable a person struggling with depression to recognize the depression and seek treatment. Alternatively, understanding the rationale for various treatments may enable a person to be consistent in taking an antidepressant medication each day or regularly practicing new skills learned in psychotherapy. In the case of educating family members, psychoeducation may help family members to better understand how to support a loved one emotionally and in treatment.
What does Psychoeducation for Depression Look Like in Action?
Psychoeducation is sometimes presented verbally by a health care provider or given as an informational handout to individuals struggling with depression and/or their loved ones. There is also a large amount of information about depression that can be accessed online through video or written format (for example, this website!). Common topics of psychoeducation include describing depressive symptoms, treatment options and effectiveness of various treatment options. Once a treatment is selected, education may also include additional information about the rationale for the selected treatment approach.
- Sanford, M., Boyle, M., McCleary, L., Miller, J., Steele, M., Duku, E., & Offord, D. (2006). A pilot study of adjunctive family psychoeducation in adolescent major depression: feasibility and treatment effect. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 45(4), 386-495. doi:10.1097/01.chi.0000198595.68820.10
- Shimazu, K., Shimodera, S., Mino, Y., Nishida, A., Kamimura, N., Sawada, K., . . . Inoue, S. (2011). Family psychoeducation for major depression: randomised controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry, 198(5), 385-390. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.078626