The prevalence of smoking in people with mental health problems is much greater than the general population. Stop smoking services in the general population are known to be very effective in supporting smokers with their quit attempt, and smokers are 4 times more likely to quit smoking with the service than trying to quit by themselves.
However, hard to reach groups like people with mental health problems, are less likely to quit smoking and also have an increased chance of relapse. Therefore, a pilot support programme was developed for service users with mental health problems, to get tailored and intensive support to increase their chances of stopping smoking or cutting down.
July 5th 2010 saw the first pilot health support programme of one complete cycle commence at two sites under the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT). Although the pilot was advertised as a Health Support Programme to raise awareness of positive health behaviours, such as healthy eating and exercise, the main focus of the group session was to raise awareness of the harms of smoking, and support smokers who wanted to give up.
Neeta Parmar is a Stop Smoking Specialist Locality Advisor for Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust. She has a MSc in Health Psychology and has a specialist interest around the issues of smoking in mental health. Neeta has worked in partnership with mental health professionals to support and empower vulnerable service users, and set up a service that would be responsive and accessible to this client groups needs. Neeta has represented the Stop Smoking Service on local radio and national T.V. to highlight the issues of dangers around smoking and raise the profile of the service.