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.


Video Citations

Weekly Meditation

Below is a set of meditation that can be done morning and evening for 6 weeks or 6 days! Each week has a theme. Themes include working hard, self compassion, happiness, humor, and practicing gratitude.

Week 1 or Day 1 (if doing daily)

Don't stress, do your best! In this first week, we'll go over some of the basics of mindfulness and talk about how you can integrate mindfulness practices into your daily lives.


Week 2 or Day 2 (if doing daily)

How do you show yourself compassion? This week we're going to look at the role your inner dialogue plays in your life and how you can make self-compassion a habit.


Week 3 or Day 3 (if doing daily)

Re-wiring your brain for happiness. This week we're talking about how to create a life that makes you happy.


Week 4 or Day 4 (if doing daily)

The power of laughter! This week we're looking at how finding humor and being outside can change your perception and positively impact your life.


Week 5 or Day 5 (if doing daily)

Practicing an attitude of gratitude. This week we're talking about being grateful for what we have and indulging in our pleasures. 


Week 6 or Day 6 (if doing daily)

Worried about "failure"? We all have moments where we feel like we didn't achieve what we wanted to so let's talk about those feelings. This week we're examining the power of acceptance and embracing the courageous act of simply being.