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approach also has applications for bipolar illness, major depression, or borderline personality disorder. It has been combined with assertive community treatment and supported employment to great advantage, clinically and vocationally.

What does the evidence say?

Extensive research demonstrates that implementing family psychoeducation in routine mental health settings dramatically improves the lives of people with severe mental illness. For consumers whose families participate, relapse rates and rehospitalizations decrease significantly within the first year following hospitalization when compared to groups who only use medication, with or without individual therapy. In several studies, relapse and rehospitalizations decreased in frequency by 50% or more. Family psychoeducation programs have provided the psychosocial supports consumers need to extend recovery, re- enter the work force, and develop social skills. Families report a decrease in feeling confused, stressed, and isolated. Recent studies have shown employment rate gains of two to four times baseline levels, especially when combined with supported employment, another EBP. Medical care costs for family members are reduced as well. Combined effects over several years lead to about 50% of consumers achieving five years without relapse, a very strong base for going on to recovery.

Family psychoeducation has proven to be markedly effective in reducing the cost of caring for people with severe mental illness. While the implementation of family psychoeducation may involve some up-front costs, studies consistently indicate a very low cost-benefit ratio, especially in savings from reduced hospital admissions, reduction in hospital days, and in crisis intervention contacts.

To help public mental health authorities implement family psychoeducation services into the system of care, resource kits have been developed to help agency administrators and mental health program leaders implement this approach for consumers and their families.

Why provide family psychoeducation?

  • To achieve the best possible outcome for the individual with mental illness through an inclusive and collaborative care model.

  • To reduce confusion and stress among family members, by informing and supporting their efforts to support the recovery of their loved one.

  • To coordinate all elements of treatment and supportive services to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals in a collaborative relationship.

  • To listen to families and treat them as equal partners.

  • To explore family members' expectations and assess a family's

strengths and limitations in supporting recovery.

  • To help resolve family conflict through sensitive response to emotional distress.

  • To address feelings of loss among family members and consumers.

  • To provide relevant information for consumers and families about mental illness and treatments that support recovery.

  • To provide training for the family in structured problem-solving techniques.

  • To encourage the family to expand their social support networks.

  • To be flexible in meeting the needs of the family.

Family Psychoeducation Toolkit


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