Quit initiative improves physical health of people experiencing mental illness

Queensland Mental Health Clinical Collaborative (MHCC) has implemented a successful smoking cessation initiative for mental health patients.

A smoking cessation initiative implemented across Queensland Public Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drug Services (MHAOD) has seen a 1.5 per cent reduction in the smoking rate from 2018 to 2022, equating to approximately 430 lives improved over five years.

These encouraging results were part of work undertaken by the Queensland Mental Health Clinical Collaborative (MHCC). MHCC is a statewide service improvement initiative based in Metro North Mental Health that is currently focused on improving the physical health of people experiencing mental illness and/or substance use disorders.  

The last few decades have seen substantial declines in smoking rates in the general population, but not for people experiencing mental illness who are twice as likely to smoke daily than those without mental illness and remain disproportionately impacted by smoking. 

There has been a reluctance to treat smoking in people experiencing mental illness with concerns that smoking may help to relieve symptoms and that quitting might make symptoms worse.  

However, it has been proven that quitting smoking does not make psychiatric symptoms worse and stopping smoking can improve mental health and the effectiveness of mental health treatments. 

QLD MHCC Co-Manager Sally Plever is pleased to see a change in practice around smoking cessation in people experiencing mental illness.  

“As part of the smoking cessation initiative, people engaged with Mental Health and/or Alcohol and Drug Services statewide are routinely asked about smoking and, if they smoke, provided with a brief smoking cessation intervention (the Smoking Cessation Clinical Pathway),” Sally said.  

“A unique partnership between these services and Queensland Quitline has also meant that people attending MHAOD services in Queensland can access an intensive smoking cessation program providing telephone counselling and 12 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy. 

“People experiencing mental illness die 10-15 years earlier than the general population primarily due to preventable physical health conditions. Addressing smoking is essential to improving quality of life and physical health outcomes.  

“The success of this initiative shows us that even though smoking is a challenging issue, Queensland Health MHAOD services are well placed to deliver smoking cessation treatment, reduce preventable illnesses and improve physical health,” she said.  

The smoking cessation program has been included in the Equally Well in Action Progress Report, a report of the first six years of the implementation of the Equally Well Consensus Statement, a commitment to preventing physical illnesses in people with a mental illness. 

2023-11-09T13:56:14+10:008 November 2023|
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