In a Category All Their Own

Adults with mental illness are in a category all of their own – smoking is 70% higher for adults with mental illness. This is according a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which states that nearly 1 in every 5 adults in the United States (about 45.7 million Americans) have some type of mental illness.

The report also confirms that adult smokers with mental illness smoke more cigarettes per day than those without a mental illness, about 11 cigarettes a day. These statistics are even more alarming among minority and low-income people who experience mental health problems.

So what does this all mean? Well for the CDC it means working with national partners, state tobacco control programs and other key stakeholders to bring awareness about the burden of smoking within this community and to monitor the successes within this community. One the partnerships highlighted is SAMHSA and the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC), who developed a portfolio of activities designed to promote tobacco cessation efforts in behavioral health care. In addition they are working with states through Leadership Academies for Wellness and Smoking Cessation to reduce tobacco use among this community by developing a collaborative action plan with stakeholders (leaders in tobacco control, mental health, substance abuse, public health, and clients).

What this means for the Center is passing policy. Last year, the Center participated in a series of conferences throughout the state with the California Tobacco Control Program to look at smoking within the behavioral health community. As a result, we developed the Five Phases to Victory: Promoting Smokefree Policies in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Facilities. This document is a step-by-step guide for administrators, staff, and clients, who want to develop successful campaigns to limit tobacco use at substance abuse or mental health facilities. The campaign phases outlined in the document are guidelines, not iron clad rules, so they can be adapted to your own situation. And don’t forget we are available for TA, to provide any assistance we can to get you one step closer to adopting a policy.

–Julissa Gomez

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