Help those with men­tal health prob­lems to stop smok­ing

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

BET­TER anti-smok­ing ser­vices, such as coun­selling and nico­tine re­place­ments, are needed for peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to Plaid Cymru.

New statistics show peo­ple with long-stand­ing men­tal health con­di­tions are al­most twice as likely to smoke - 36% com­pared to 19% of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

Smok­ing can of­ten make con­di­tions such as de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety worse, and the Royal Col­lege of Psy­chi­a­trists said that giv­ing up smok­ing is just as ef­fec­tive as anti-de­pres­sants in tack­ling anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

It can also en­able doses of med­i­ca­tion to be re­duced within four weeks of giv­ing up. But, ac­cord­ing to the Royal Col­lege, peo­ple with men­tal health con­di­tions are less likely to get help to stop smok­ing.

Ar­fon Plaid Cymru MP Hy­wel Wil­liams, a former so­cial worker who worked in men­tal health, said: “I saw that al­most ev­ery­body smoked, es­pe­cially in­pa­tients at the former North Wales Hos­pi­tal Den­bigh.

“Now so much treat­ment is out in the com­mu­nity, prac­ti­cal steps could be taken. Peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems need help to give up smok­ing as part of their treat­ment plans. It af­fects their psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal health and would also save them a great deal of money.

“Al­ter­na­tives should be en­cour­aged, such as nico­tine re­plac­ments or coun­selling as part of treat­ment. I don’t know if there is a re­la­tion­ship be­tween the tox­ins in to­bacco and the ex­ac­er­ba­tion of men­tal health con­di­tions, how­ever, stop­ping smok­ing can only be a good thing.”

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Health and So­cial Care Rhun ap Ior­w­erth said the fig­ures showed that far more support was needed within men­tal health ser­vices to help peo­ple quit smok­ing.

An­gle­sey AM Mr ap Ior­w­erth said: “These fig­ures show that smok­ing rates are still far too high among peo­ple with men­tal health con­di­tions and, all too of­ten, help­ing them give up smok­ing is over­looked in treat­ment plans. Tack­ling smok­ing must also be re­garded as an es­sen­tial part of re­cov­ery.

“While there is much that needs to be done to im­prove men­tal health ser­vices, there are many pos­i­tive in­cre­men­tal steps we can make to help those in need and im­prov­ing the support avail­able to stop smok­ing is one of them.

“Stop­ping smok­ing can have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on some con­di­tions and ex­perts say it can be just as ef­fec­tive as med­i­ca­tion.

“I want the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to take ac­tion and im­prove the smok­ing ces­sa­tion ser­vices that are of­fered within men­tal health ser­vices.

“Of­fer­ing one-size-fits-all ser­vices won’t work, and tai­lored support is cru­cial, which in­cludes ex­plain­ing the clin­i­cal ben­e­fits that stop­ping smok­ing will have on the par­tic­u­lar men­tal health con­di­tion that a per­son has and of­fer­ing step-by-step prac­ti­cal help.”

● Hy­wel Wil­liams MP

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