A couple of us at the Nicotine Dependence Center were recently looking at the discussions in the EX community ‘Mental Health Support’ group with great appreciation and admiration. The perseverance and commitment to becoming tobacco free described by struggling members is moving and awe-inspiring. And, the experience, strength and hope that members provide in support of their struggling compatriots is wonderful to read.
As you probably know, the reduction in smoking rates that has occurred in the United States over the past 50 years has tragically not happened for people who suffer with mental illness. Individuals with mental health problems now smoke at 2-4 times the rate, and suffer more illness and early death, than those without mental health diagnosis.
This tragedy continues, in-part, because of myths such as ‘people with psychiatric disorders are unmotivated to quit, or unable to quit’, or ‘stopping smoking will make mental health problems worse’. These types of myths have led to tobacco treatment support that is less than sufficient for people with co-occurring mental health problems, and public health campaigns that have not reached out to mental health consumers.
This inequity needs to end. As the EX discussions show, people with mental illness want to become tobacco free, and can become tobacco free.