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Psycho-education and Carer Education

The term psycho-education is generally applied to any intervention that educates those affected by mental health difficulties and their families with a view to improving longer term outcomes. In the context of Recovery for Carers, this section refers to interventions that might help carers to become more knowledgeable and better able to cope. Such interventions are also likely to be of assistance to carers in providing information that is likely to be helpful to them in their role as partners in care.

It is worth noting that carer-focused structured education and support programmes. are recommended for carers in section 1.1.5 of the Guideline on Psychosis and Schizophrenia as published by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2014


There is a wide range of range of topics that might be included in this type of intervention which might include some of these:

  • Providing information about the nature of the illness
  • Helping carers to understand treatments and medications
  • Teaching carers about coping strategies and stress management
  • Introducing carers to strategies that might help in avoiding relapse
  • Teaching carers about effective family communication skills
  • Explaining a framework for problem solving
  • Encouraging carers to look after themselves and their own wellbeing
  • Helping carers to have a positive understanding of recovery
  • Regularly review how information is shared
  • Giving information about local services and resources
  • Sharing experiences of caring
  • Other relevant topics as identified by a group of carers


Psycho-education interventions will generally be delivered in one of the following formats:

  • A series of structured interactive group sessions of around 2-3 hours – each covering a specific topic such as one of those listed above. Such sessions will be designed and facilitated by mental health or social care professionals, and a carer might also be a co-facilitator. The format of these sessions is likely to be more structured than a general carer support group.
  • An interactive self- help workbook either as a manual or as an online resource

Group sessions

Many localities in the UK will have carer education programmes available for carers to attend through the mental health service, the local carers centre or a voluntary sector organisation. The courses may be open to all carers or they may be specific to a particular service, diagnosis, age group or geographical area. Some may be during the day whilst others may be in an evening.

To find out more as to what is available in your own area, contact the Carer Lead in the appropriate mental health trust, the relevant mental health team or your local carers centre. Carer Support Workers in your area should also have this information.

Family Interventions

It should also be noted that some structured family intervention models, such as Behavioural Family Therapy, will include carer-focused information, education and support content within the intervention, which will be particularly helpful to all the family.

Find out more about the evidence base for family work


Meriden runs a 3-day course called Caring for Carers 3 or 4 times a year which enables the professionals and carers who undertake the course to work together in rolling out a comprehensive information and support programme to carers in their own areas/teams. Click here to see a typical flyer for this course together with an example of the programme that can be rolled out as a result of attendance on this course.

Meriden flyer for the Caring for Carers course (1.7 MiB)

Delegates receive a comprehensive manual to help them in developing a programme to roll out to carers.

Self-help resources

Caring for Yourself’ – which has been created by Meriden in conjunction with Rethink Mental Illness. This resource can be found as an online resource in our Caring for Yourself page.  Caring for Yourself is a self-help workbook in 8 parts designed as an information and educational resource to help carers. It will also be useful for professionals who work with carers so that they can refer carers to it where appropriate. It can also be used alongside a carer education programme that is being run on a group session basis.

Eufami is a Belgium based international organisation that has developed programmes supporting people affected by mental illness, and the organisations representing them. They have developed The Prospect Family and Friends Training Programme which addresses the needs of carers in their own right, to enable them to gain confidence, improve their coping skills, regain control and improve their quality of life. It is normally delivered through group sessions, so it may be worth checking with them direct if this course is available in your country/area.


A number of papers have been published about the evidence base for psycho-education and references for these can be found on our Meriden research sources document

Psychoeducation For Family And Carers Reference List (115.9 KiB)

Helpful services for carers
Recovery resources for professionals