OBJECTIVES: Family education programmes aim to improve the well-being of carers of people with a mental illness. We evaluated the effectiveness of one such programme, Well Ways, in reducing negative care-giving consequences. METHOD: We employed a pre-post design to evaluate the effectiveness of Well Ways in a naturalistic setting using a sample of carers of people with a mental illness. The Involvement Evaluation Questionnaire, a measure of care-giving consequences including worrying, tension, urging and supervision, and incorporating the General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12), was completed by 459 carers before and after participation in Well Ways. RESULTS: Participants' worrying, tension, urging and distress (GHQ-12) were significantly lower following completion of the programme. These improvements were maintained at 3 and 6 month follow up. Carers of people with a psychotic disorder experienced significantly greater reductions in worrying than did other carers. Females reported significantly greater reductions in tension than did males. CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicated support for the effectiveness of the Well Ways programme in reducing negative care-giving consequences for families of people with a mental illness. Given the evidence of poor psychological health and negatively appraised family relationships observed at baseline, these findings highlight the need for programmes such as Well Ways.