The smoking rate for adults with mental illness is 70 percent higher than for adults with no mental illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
That’s one reason the CDC recently invited APA to be a
partner in the 2016 Tips From Former Smokers campaign, a
federally funded national tobacco education initiative that
features real Americans living with serious long-term health
effects from smoking.
APA’s role in the partnership is to spread information to
psychologists and behavioral health professionals about the
importance of addressing smoking with patients.
“Practitioners may be dealing with other conditions in these
patients that can push the smoking issue to the background,
but often these patients end up dying from smoking-related
conditions,” says Lula Beatty, PhD, senior director for health
disparities at APA. “Generally people want to quit, but it is very
hard to do and often they need professional assistance.”
One of the ads features a woman named Rebecca who
started smoking as a teen and later was diagnosed with
depression. Trying and failing to quit contributed to her
depression, which then led her to smoke more, creating a
vicious cycle. She eventually did quit, and now feels better both
mentally and physically.
To equip behavioral health practitioners to address the issue
of smoking with patients who have a mental health problem,
APA and the Morehouse School of Medicine in Georgia offered
a webinar in April that is still available online, Beatty says.
APA is also creating an app for clinicians who treat rural, HIV
positive, LGBT, mentally ill, American Indian and other health
priority populations that have a higher-than-average smoking
rate. For each population, the app will list the prevalence, risk
factors, assessment tools and evidence-based practices.
“Most people agree that smoking is not good for you, but
it’s easy to prioritize other presenting problems,” Beatty says.
“I hope we can re-energize practitioners about the dangers of
smoking and the importance of paying attention to this issue in
Providers can visit the Tips website to learn more about how
to help people with mental health conditions quit smoking and
get free tools www.cdc.gov/tipsmentalhealth.
— Heather Stringer
APA teams with
to curb smoking