Mental healthcare representatives from the Department of Health approached the University of Pretoria to provide students with the opportunity to establish psycho-educational support groups for mental healthcare patients at various local clinics. This opportunity forms part of the Department of Psychology s community psychology practical training. The study makes use of programme evaluation as part of applied research to evaluate the relevance of psycho-educational support groups, as a method to strengthen mental health services to patients and to enhance their well-being.
The implementation of psycho-educational support groups in this research includes the exploration and evaluation of the process of implementation and effectiveness of these groups as a possible supplement to individual therapy, not as a replacement.
The foundation of this evaluation consists of two main objectives:
1. To determine the students views regarding the value and the process of implementing the psycho-educational support for the patients in the various clinics.
2. To determine the views of the personnel of the various clinics regarding the value of psycho-educational support groups conducted in their clinics.
The social ecological perspective is used as theoretical basis for the implementation of the psycho-educational support groups, it refers to the mutual transactions between people and the social environment in which they function on a daily basis, and how individuals adapt to their changing environment in order to survive or ensure their own well-being.
The evaluation of the psycho-educational support groups also forms part of a larger, action-research process and uses qualitative semi-structured interviews as data collection method and thematic analysis to analyse the data.
The research results indicated that that psycho-educational support groups had a constructive impact on the patients who participated in these groups, despite the views and opinions of a number of the students and psychologists that indicated that some of the session had no value. Within the boundaries of action research and planning for future implementation, this study provided a platform for further research on the topic of psycho-educational support groups in primary healthcare, especially mental health. The value of the study was that it highlighted the potential value of psycho-educational support groups in primary healthcare clinics. It also outlined many variables that need to be taken into account when implementing these groups in the future. Using these suggestions, the implementation of psycho-educational support groups can improve to increase not only the value of the support they provide to the patients, but also the overall functioning of the clinics.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2015.