Quit Positive: A specialist smoking cessation programme for mental health patients
Lauren Alper Health Improvement Coordinator (Mental Health), Medway Council, Chatham
In England the national smoking prevalence is at a record low of 18%. However, there has been little decline in smoking prevalence for those with a long standing mental illness with studies publishing prevalence rates of up to 70%. Our mental health population is facing widening health inequalities with high levels of smoking related morbidity and mortality. For example respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer rates are double in those with schizophrenia compared with the general population.
Historically, it has been assumed that mental health patients don’t want to, or cannot, quit smoking. In Medway a project called ‘Quit Positive’ has challenged these perceptions by delivering a bespoke service to community mental health patients. The programme differs from standard service provision in that a cut-down-to-quit model is employed over a 14 weeks, with more Nicotine Replacement Therapy available per quit attempt. Other bespoke features include taught relaxation techniques/coping strategies and a focus on how to manage medication and mental health needs during a quit attempt. During the pilot phase the project achieved a 4-week quit rate of 39.7% (87% CO Verified) and a cut-down by more than 50% rate of 17.2%; an overall positive change of 56.9%.
Lauren Alper graduated from Lincoln University in 2012 with a degree in Psychology and then started her career working in forensic mental health services. Whilst working with people who have severe mental health disorders it came to her attention that improvement in physical health would improve the overall quality of life for many of her patients. This led her to Medway Council’s Public Health Team to develop the bespoke smoking cessation programme ‘Quit Positive’, which after being launched in 2014 is now a standard service provision for mental health patients who live in Medway.
Source of funding: Public Health Ring-fenced Budget
Declaration of interest: I have no links with the tobacco industry and I am employed directly by Medway Council.