The Importance of Addressing Tobacco Reduction Among Individuals Living With Mental Illnesses

Although there has been a significant reduction in tobacco use within the past fifty years, smoking remains high among individuals with mental illnesses. They smoke at rates two to three times higher than the general population. Because of this and other factors like limited access to health care, the average life expectancy for those living with mental illnesses is about twenty-five years less than their peers. One of the most effective ways of reducing this disparity is by focusing on tobacco reduction.

Tobacco use has many harmful effects on health and mental health. Smoking increases how quickly some psychiatric medications are broken down in the body. This can cause an individual to require higher doses of medication and experience more severe side effects. There are a number of benefits to quitting smoking. It can reverse many of the negative effects that cigarettes cause and is associated with an improved mood state as well as a decrease in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

A majority of those who live with mental illnesses and smoke express interest in quitting. By regularly asking about tobacco use and assessing their interest and readiness to quit, mental health providers can assist people in developing a plan for quitting. This may include cessation medication, a quit line, counseling, or a health coach. Providers face a number of demands, but even short discussions with their clients on tobacco use can have a great impact on length and quality of life.

In an effort to reduce the high rate of smoking among individuals living with mental illnesses, NAMI Minnesota is providing a free, hour-long workshop to mental health providers and is available to work with mental health programs to make organizational changes. The educational component includes information on ways to effectively help people reduce or quit tobacco use, as well as relapse prevention strategies. By encouraging providers to address this issue with their clients and staff and to make organizational changes within their program, more individuals will have access to the tools that are necessary to be successful in quitting.

Elizabeth Muenchow is the Smoking Cessation Project Coordinator at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Global Health from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

For more information on tobacco reduction for individuals living with mental illnesses contact Elizabeth Muenchow, Smoking Cessation Project Coordinator at NAMI Minnesota, at 651-645-2948 extension 124 or [email protected].

Share this post:

Comments on "The Importance of Addressing Tobacco Reduction Among Individuals Living With Mental Illnesses"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment

Diversity Statement

The Minnesota Psychological Association actively encourages the participation of all psychologists regardless of age, creed, race, ethnic background, gender, socio-economic status, region of residence, physical or mental status, political beliefs, religious or spiritual affiliation, and sexual or affectional orientation.Although we are an organization of individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds, the Minnesota Psychological Association also recognizes our core unifying identities as Psychologists who practice in America. We also recognize that we may hold unintentional attitudes and beliefs that influence our perceptions of and interactions with others. Within this context of unity and self-exploration, we are committed to increasing our sensitivity to all aspects of diversity as well as our knowledge and appreciation of the unique qualities of different cultures and backgrounds.We aspire to becoming alert to aspects of diversity, previously unseen or unacknowledged in our culture. In this spirit, we are committed to collaborating with multicultural groups to combat racism and other forms of prejudice as we seek to promote diversity in our society. To this end, we are dedicated to increasing our multicultural competencies and effectiveness as educators, researchers, administrators, policy makers, and practitioners.