Engaging clients with mental illnesses and behavioral health challenges in tobacco treatment
People living with mental illness have higher tobacco use rates and are disproportionately affected by tobacco-related illness and death. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of death in individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders. Yet smokers with mental illness have low success with traditional tobacco treatment programs. Behavioral health care providers need to be more aggressive in offering tobacco use treatment in these populations. The following video gives more background on this population and discusses how to adapt tobacco treatment programs to help those with mental disorders (about 18% of the US population). Many in this population use tobacco to affect their mood often when bored, needing to concentrate, or wanting momentary stress relief. In fact, some mental health facilities actually encourage nicotine use. But early tobacco use may actually cause psychosis or other mental illness and the tar from cigarettes can counteract the effectiveness of mental illness medication (I.e. antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, etc.). Smoking cessation could help the medications treating mental illness to be more effective. For these reasons and many more, the BH WELL team is passionate about changing the norm of nicotine addiction within mental health settings.