Around a third of people experiencing mental illness smoke, which is more than double the national rate of 13%.* For people living with psychosis, that rate is even higher – approximately 66%, or more than four times the national rate.**
People experiencing mental illness are also often heavier smokers. These higher smoking rates and heavier levels of smoking contribute to poorer physical health outcomes.
However, many people with mental illness want to stop smoking and, with the right support, this can result in a positive change.
For people with mental health concerns, stopping smoking can lead to benefits such as:
- a reduction in medication and fewer medication side effects
- lower stress levels
- easier breathing
- greater confidence
- less financial pressure
- improved wellbeing
- a positive support to the mental health recovery process.
Support to stop smoking or cut down combined with nicotine replacement therapy provides the best chance of becoming a long-term non-smoker. To learn more about supporting people with mental health concerns to stop smoking, check out the resources at the bottom of this page.
Smoking interacts with some mental health medications so it’s important to review dosages during the process.
For general information about mental illness, contact the SANE Australia Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm EST.
What can your service do to support smokers?
Mental health services can help reduce smoking-related harms for their clients and staff by providing straight forward smoking care.
Here’s how to get started:
- Guide to a smoke-free life
- Supporting someone with a mental illness to quit smoking
- Smoking and mental illness: a guide for health professionals
To download, visit Mental health and quitting.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners:
Cancer Council New South Wales: Tackling tobacco:
Follow links to:
- asking the question
- pointers to key research articles.
NSW Literature Review: Smoke and Mirrors
* Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: survey report, in Drug statistics series no 252011, AIHW: Canberra.
** Morgan V, Waterreus A, Jablensky A, McGrath JJ, Carr V, et al, People living with psychotic illness 2010. Report on the second Australian national survey, DO556., 2011, Department of Health and Ageing: Canberra.