The Institute for Disability Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi has partnered with the Office of Tobacco Control and other state organizations on a comprehensive plan to reduce tobacco usage among behavioral health clients and staff who serve them.
Earlier this month IDS and the Office of Tobacco Control sponsored a statewide Leadership Academy for Wellness and Smoking Cessation in Jackson, Miss. The academy focused on creating a cooperative, collaborative relationship among the fields of public health, mental health and addictions.
“Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death I this country, and these data show that we must assure our citizens with mental illnesses know about and have access to services to help them quite smoking, such as the Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUITNOW),” said Dr. Mary Currier, State Health Officer at the Mississippi State Department of Health.
A 2013 tobacco utilization survey for Mississippi showed that 66.2 percent of more than 1,000 adults served by the state’s community mental health centers smoked or used tobacco. Of this population, 58.1 percent wanted to quit. Additional data indicates that about one in five Mississippi adults has some form of mental illness.
The Mississippi survey also explored the barriers that prevent adults with mental health issues from accessing tobacco cessation information and resources as well as the motivations for quitting. In addressing barriers, 43.3 percent of survey respondents said they did not want to stop smoking or using tobacco; 25.4 percent cited transportation as a problem for attending programs and 25.1 percent said they didn’t know about the programs available. Motivation for quitting included illness (42.2 percent); the cost of tobacco products (36.4 percent) and a loved one requesting them to quit (25.1 percent).
“The Department of Mental Health is committed to partnering with key state agencies to reduce tobacco usage among behavioral health consumers and staff,” said Ed LeGrand, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. “This Leadership Academy developed a multifaceted long-term cooperative plan for creating a healthier Mississippi.”
“We appreciate the assistance of the staff of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the community mental health centers who assisted in collecting the vital information that can help improve the health of many Mississippians,” said Dr. Royal Walker, IDS Director.
Stephanie McCladdie, Regional Administrator for Region IV of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), attended the Leadership Academy. SAMHSA and the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, administrators of leadership academies in six other states, provided assistance and expertise during the Mississippi academy.
For more information about the Leadership Academy, visit www.,usm.edu/disability-studies.