The gut microbiome as a potential therapeutic target for mental illness is a hot topic in psychiatry. Trillions of bacteria reside in the human gut and have been shown to play a crucial role in gut-brain communication through an influence on neural, immune, and endocrine pathways. Patients with various psychiatric disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism spectrum disorder have been shown to have significant differences in the composition of their gut microbiome. Enhancing beneficial bacteria in the gut, for example, through the use of probiotics, prebiotics, or dietary change, has the potential to improve mood and reduce anxiety in both healthy people and patient groups. Much attention is being given to this subject in the general media, and patients are becoming increasingly interested in the potential to treat mental illness with microbiome-based therapies. It is imperative that those working with people with mental illness are aware of the rationale and current evidence base for such treatment strategies. In this review, we provide an overview of the gut microbiome, what it is, and what it does in relation to gut-brain communication and psychological function. We describe the fundamental principles and basic techniques used in microbiome-gut-brain axis research in an accessible way for a clinician audience. We summarize the current evidence in relation to microbiome-based strategies for various psychiatric disorders and provide some practical advice that can be given to patients seeking to try a probiotic for mental health benefit.