Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Effectiveness of Psycho-Education on Depression, Hopelessness, Suicidality, Anxiety and Substance Use among Basic Diploma Students at Kenya Medical Training College

Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Effectiveness of Psycho-Education on Depression, Hopelessness, Suicidality, Anxiety and Substance Use among Basic Diploma Students at Kenya Medical Training College

Article excerpt

Substantial evidence supports the use of psychological therapies--particularly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)--through various methods of psycho-education in the prevention or treatment of mild to moderate depression, anxiety, moderate substance abuse and consequently, hopelessness and suicidality. [1] Researchers have devised several components of psycho-education geared towards symptom recognition and stress-coping skills, among other things, which mental health professionals have found to be effective in preventing and reducing the symptoms of these conditions.

Psycho-education has also been found to promote self-referral to healthcare providers, by enhancing symptom recognition and reducing stigma. [2,3] An individual's ability to understand the effects of psycho-stressors as risk factors can help reduce these conditions' prevalence among patients or the general population, and individuals equipped with appropriate stress-coping strategies can deal with possible psycho-stressors before they become chronic. [2]

The most common mental disorders diagnosed in primary-care settings are depression, anxiety and substance-related disorders, which can be present alone or comorbid with another mental disorder. [4] Hopelessness and suicidality are symptoms in a number of mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety or substance abuse. [5-7] Common in the general population, these debilitating conditions affect general well-being, functioning, productivity and quality of life if left unmanaged, making it hard to do everyday tasks completely, competently and efficiently. [8-11]

These conditions also have a psychosocial component that is closely related to negative social relationships, environmental challenges or an individual's inadequate ability to cope effectively with stress. These challenges have been found to be predominant among medical students. [12-15] Because the diagnosis of depression, anxiety, hopelessness or suicidality by general practitioners is often poor, the proportion of sufferers who receive treatment is low.

Among students entering the health professions, these conditions not only affect their lives negatively but may also have repercussions for patient care in the long run. [10,14] Rosenthal and Okie [5] noted that medical students are more prone to depression than their non-medical peers. This could be because medical students constantly encounter very sick patients or even deaths among their patients. Psycho-education in recognising the symptoms of these conditions and understanding their causes, as well as skills for coping with stress, may facilitate their prevention, and possibly control of their occurrence.

In a study involving 1st- and 2nd-year medical students in a Californian University, aimed at investigating the use of mental health services and its barriers, Givens et al. found that about a quarter of the respondents were depressed. [15] Noting the increased prevalence of these conditions in these students compared with their non-medical peers, the study noted a negative attitude towards mental illness among the respondents and therefore an unwillingness to openly seek help.

Givens et al. [15] also found that the students had poor coping strategies for the stresses of school life, which included inadequate sleep hours, reduced social life, fatigue and academic challenges. As medical students encounter serious illness and deaths within their practical learning sessions, their emotional balance may be compromised, leaving them vulnerable to anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

Psycho-educational interventions

Various interventions have been employed to prevent or manage mental disorders. Psycho-education is a cost-effective interventional approach that emphasises teaching stress-coping strategies such as goal setting, skills teaching, satisfactory goal achievement, assertiveness and communication skills. …

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