Helping a loved one who is experiencing a severe mental illness, especially someone who may not realize they are sick, is one of the greatest gifts you can give. For some, it may mean the difference between life and tragedy. ~ Treatment Advocacy Center
WICHITA — Anti-smoking campaigns have generally succeeded in educating Americans about the hazards of tobacco use, experts say. Smoking prevalence has declined by almost half in the last 50 years as a result.
But it remains stubbornly high among one group – persons with severe and persistent mental illness. Smoking rates for the mentally ill are more than double those in the general population, according to a commentary published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, co-authored by Jeffrey Willett, vice president for programs at the Kansas Health Foundation.
“The paper is really a call to action to both the public health and the mental health communities,” Willett told KHI News Service. “There is recognition that there are high rates of tobacco use among people with serious mental illness, but there is honestly not enough being done to address the problem.”
Persons with serious mental illness on average die 25 years earlier than people in the general population due primarily to smoking- and obesity-related diseases, Willett said.
“This population is rapidly becoming the last frontier (in the effort to reduce smoking),” he said. “In, Kansas, roughly one-third of all cigarettes smoked are smoked by people with mental illness.”
Nationally, 16 million adults with mental illness are smokers. Approximately 80 percent of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia smoke. The rate exceeds 60 percent among those with bipolar disorder.