Smoking has a significant impact on the health, social and financial well-being of people living with mental illness. That’s why Quit Victoria, NorthWestern Mental Health, Orygen Youth Health and EACH partnered in 2016 to improve smoking cessation care at mental health services and reduce the inequities driven by smoking.

Using the Tackling Tobacco organisational change framework, which was developed by Cancer Council NSW to guide the work, the services embedded best practice smoking cessation care into their everyday support of consumers. This has resulted in the project reaching more than 1,000 people who use these services in the last year and 250 staff.

The good news is that consumers and staff are stopping smoking or cutting down. John, a consumer at one of the services highlighted the difference for him, “The peer support worker came out with a quit pack. I had a browse through it and thought OK – this is how you do it.” By evaluating and reviewing the work along the way, we’re clearer about what can make a real difference.

Leadership and commitment: Both at Executive/Management levels and from the staff at the service. Peer support workers have been influential champions with both staff and consumers.

Change culture and practice: Training and development for all staff about how smoking impacts health, social and financial well-being, how to provide best practice smoking cessation care and how this can be integrated and documented into current work practice.

Providing consistent messaging and support: All staff provide a brief intervention which actively directs people who smoke to practical help by offering information, support and referral. For inpatient services, manage nicotine withdrawal by routinely prescribing and providing a range of Nicotine Replacement Therapy Products for those who are experiencing nicotine withdrawal or quitting. Behavioural support can be provided by Quitline Victoria (13 78 48) which is a free service tailored for people living with mental illness who are considering or wanting to stop smoking, or by a stop smoking service.

Quit Victoria has also co-designed a range of brochures, posters and cards for services, people with a lived experience of mental illness, and their families and carers. post 1 poster 2

For more information, training and support resources on smoking and mental illness: