Mental Health Treatment Helps Individuals with Mental Illness Quit Smoking

mental illness and smoking. steps to quit smoking

People with mental illness are more likely to become dependent on nicotine, which is an important factor when thinking about how to take aim at the cessation of smoking across the nation. In a recent study entitled “Trends in Smoking Among Adults With Mental Illness and Association Between Mental Health Treatment and Smoking Cessation” compared the smoking cessation efforts of subjects not currently suffering from a mental illness with subjects who are mentally ill (operationalized as reporting severe psychological distress, probable depression, or receiving treatment for mental illness). This study’s objective was to determine if mental health treatment helped smokers with mental illness quit smoking. The study coordinators used the National Survey of Drug Use and Health to establish the number of non-institutionalized smokers with mental illness, a figure reported to be 14,057 (165,269 total respondents).

Public health initiatives dealing with smoking cessation usually target non-mentally ill populations, which mean that mentally ill populations generally have a lower chance of quitting smoking than other groups. The study found that the number of non-mentally ill smokers between 2004 and 2011 decreased by 2.7%, while only .4% of mentally ill subjects stopped smoking. The study also found that mentally ill individuals had a much better success rate when provided with they were provided with access to mental health treatment, including cognitive behavioral therapy.

The study concludes that tobacco control policies and cessation interventions should target mentally ill populations to improve their smoking cessation rates to levels seen in non-mentally ill populations. Providing cognitive behavioral therapy in support of smoking cessation would be beneficial for the mentally ill in their efforts to quit smoking. Overall, it seems that the current efforts to curb smoking are not having as significant an impact on mentally ill populations as they are on non-mentally ill groups.

Image courtesy of hin25/

Read the full study here.