Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 10th March, 2021
Smoking can be a big part of someone's life and forms part of a daily ritual; a cigarette taken with a morning coffee, another on a lunch break with friends, two after a stressful day at work. These rituals of habit can be tough to break and giving up can seem impossible. With smoking rates 50% higher among those with common mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety, TALKWORKS knew it was time to do something to help people give up smoking.
TALKWORKS has teamed up with One Small Step and the Torbay Healthy Lifestyles team to work collaboratively on a project to reduce the number of people who smoke and who also have a common mental health difficulty such as depression and anxiety.
A small group have been working together to find the best way to ask people who access TALKWORKS about their smoking habits, and if they would like support to quit smoking. Joanne Hart, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner took the first step and quit smoking at the beginning of the first lockdown in March last year. The big date arrived and Joanne threw away any smoking paraphernalia that could possibly tempt her and firmly applied her first patch. Fast forward twelve months and Joanne is a stone and a half lighter, fitter than ever, more satisfied at work, and still smoke free! Due to Joanne’s own personal success to kick the habit and her own vested interest in helping others to quit, it feels right for Joanne to take this piece of work forward on behalf of TALKWORKS.
Joanne said: "Working on the quality improvement plan for the TALKWORKS stop smoking agenda has brought about positive changes to the assessment process so that we can offer referrals to One Small Step and support our patients to quit smoking. The mastery that is achieved from successfully quitting can have a positive impact on mood as well as the changes being as beneficial as taking antidepressant medication. This is why it is important to offer our patient’s the opportunity for support.”
The project has reached a really exciting stage where the change in practice is about to be rolled out to all TALKWORKS staff, who will then begin to ask people on their caseload if they smoke, and if they do, if they would like help to quit.
Paul Shewood, Stop Smoking Service Lead, Torbay Healthy Lifestyles Team said: "The prevalence of adult smoking in England has been decreasing steadily since the 1970s and currently stands at around 15% in the South West among the general population. However, smoking rates among people with serious mental illness remain above 40%. As a result life expectancy among people with mental health conditions is 15-20 years lower than in the general population and high smoking rates are the largest contributing factor to this difference (ASH 2020). I have been working in the field of smoking cessation for over 13 years and despite knowing the preventable harm that smoking causes to individuals with mental health conditions it has always been difficult to make significant changes that result in real engagement. I’m really excited about the joint TALKWORKS project and the help and support from the specialist stop smoking teams is ready and waiting. TALKWORKS addressing smoking is a great step forward in closing a gap that effects the health of so many people in Devon and I look forward to supporting smokers on that journey".
Victoria Banks, Service Manager, One Small Step said: "Prevalence of smoking is higher amongst people with poor mental health, however, we know that stopping smoking will improve mental health. These two facts combined have led to OneSmallStep (specialist smoking service) and TALKWORKS working on a collaborative quality improvement project. By asking smoking status during a TALKWORKS assessment and conducting very brief advice and subsequently directly referring smoking patients to OneSmallStep we are aiming to increase referrals and support more people with poor mental health to quit. Improving their outcomes for both physical health and mental health".
Today, No Smoking Day, may be the day for you to put smoking behind you. Smokers who quit for six weeks or more are happier and experience less anxiety and depression than those who carry on smoking. Quitting isn’t always easy but getting the right stop smoking aids and support can stop you feeling like you need a cigarette all the time.
OneSmallStep has a team of Specialist Stop Smokers advisors available to support you. You can contact them to book a free appointment by visiting their website.