People living with severe mental illness have a 15-20 year shorter life expectancy than the general population, are three times as likely to smoke, and are at a far higher risk of physical illnesses such as lung diseases. This also puts people more at risk from coronavirus.
A Time to Quit finds that people with severe mental illness who smoke are just as keen to quit as other smokers, but few get effective help. There are widespread myths that it is not possible or not safe for people with a mental illness to quit smoking. Yet with the right help, including behavioural techniques delivered well, stop smoking medication and family and peer support, people can reduce or quit smoking.
The report concludes that people with severe mental illness need access to personalised and holistic help with smoking. This means offering help at every opportunity, with access to the full range of effective treatments, and sustaining support once someone has cut or quit smoking to make it more likely to succeed longer term.
This project has been supported and funded by the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.