“Persons with mental illness are dying 25 years earlier than the general population.”
This is mostly due to preventable conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and infectious disease. People with mental illness are particularly susceptible to these conditions due to lack of access to medical care, poor nutrition and obesity, substance use and SMOKING.
“In fact, smoking cessation may the modifiable risk factor intervention that is likely to have the greatest impact on decreasing mortality.”
These are some of the most important findings from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Council’s report titled “Morbidity and Mortality in People Living with Serious Mental Illness (2006).” (The full report can be found at http://www.nasmhpd.org/publicationsmeddir.cfm. )
Did you know that almost half of all cigarettes sold in the United States are consumed by someone with a diagnosis of mental illness?
- While fewer than 1 out of 4 people in the US smoke, about half of people with mental illness smoke.
- Do you smoke? What affect does this have on your mental health? Do you want to quit smoking?
Those are some of the questions that we asked our website visitors last year in our survey “Smoking and Mental Health.” Click here to see a summary of our survey findings along with some of the things that we learned.
- Over 1,000 DBSAlliance.org website visitors took this survey. 996 met criteria to be included in the study, meaning they had been diagnosed with a mental illness and had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.
- 87% were current smokers and 13% were exsmokers.
- Bipolar disorder was the most common mental illness diagnosis (74%).
- Over half of current smokers smoke to treat symptoms of their mental illness.
- 75% of current smokers wanted to quit, 65% had tried to quit in the past year and 67% were currently planning to quit. Current smokers averaged five (5) serious quit attempts in the past.
- Ex-smokers had been smoke free, on average, more than eight years. They reported an average of 8 quit attempts before they were successful. Most had quit “cold turkey," and 25% used the help of medications and/or the nicotine replacement therapy (like the patch).
- Ex-smokers were more likely to describe their mental health as in recovery than were current smokers. But when asked about their mental health at the time that they quit smoking, most (59%) ex-smokers described it as only fair or poor.
- The majority (75%) of current smokers believed that good mental health was necessary to successfully quit smoking.
DBSA promotes smoking cessation as a priority of our initiative to improve overall health and wellness for consumers. We offer smoking cessation trainings for consumers, consumer-providers and other mental health care providers. Check DBSAlliance.org for upcoming activities and programs on smoking cessation and other health topics.
Kicking the habit is one of the most difficult, but rewarding, things that you may ever do. And people living with mental illness face special challenges related to smoking cessation. If you want to quit, talk to your loved ones, friends and health care providers. Let them know that you want to quit smoking and ask for their support. There are few resources devoted to smoking cessation that exist right now for people living with mental illness. But research is ongoing to make these available soon.
For more general information about smoking cessation and to receive help online or by phone, take a look at these resources: