On December 14, the Ohio Department of Mental Health held a summit to determine smoking cessation strategies for those Ohioans with poor mental health.
During the summit, Ohio Academy of Family Physicians President Tom Houston, MD, presented “Behavioral Health and Tobacco Dependence: Addressing a High-Risk Population.” In addition, OAFP member Ted Wymyslo, MD, moderated group breakout sessions; and OAFP Executive Vice President Ann Spicer participated in the full-day strategy session.
Back in June 2015, Ohio was one of five states (Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, and Wyoming) chosen to attend the 2015 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Policy Academy on Tobacco Control in Behavioral Health. The purpose of the State Policy Academy was to encourage each of those states to hold a statewide summit to develop a customized action plan based on that individual state’s tobacco and behavioral health data.
- Tobacco is necessary self-medication for people with behavioral health conditions (industry has supported this myth)
- People with behavioral health conditions are not interested in quitting (actually the same percentage wish to quit as general population)
- People with behavioral health conditions can’t quit (quit rates are actually the same or slightly lower than general population)
- Quitting worsens recovery from the mental illness
- Tobacco cessation is a low priority problem (smoking is the biggest killer for those with mental and substance use disorders).
Participants also learned that many mental health medications are negatively impacted by smoking and caffeine intake. Smokers, as a result, end up on higher medication doses because their prescribed medications aren’t as effective as they would be if the patient eliminated tobacco and caffeine. Tobacco use is still part of the behavioral health culture that needs to be addressed as addressing smoking actually improves mental health.
Approximately 40 leaders participated in Ohio’s summit. Once summit strategies are summarized into a plan, subgroups will begin working on implementation.