Since 1996 smoking rates among the general population have seen a steady decline with current figures suggesting around 16% of the population smoke. However, smoking rates for people living with mental health difficulties have remained relatively unchanged over this time with rates remaining at around 32%.
Given that smoking contributes to significant health, economic, and social disadvantage there is a clear need to respond. As a community based mental health service, Neami takes a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, and is committed to addressing this health inequity. Our role becomes more important as public health organisations like QUIT tend to target the general population, rather than those living with mental health issues.
While Neami has had previous attempts at targeting tobacco use, they have not always had traction. This is because they have often had a “quitting” focus, instead of meeting people where they were at with their smoking habits. “Kick the Habit” was born when a Neami Health Promotion Officer in WA attended a conference and heard about an approach to quitting that was patient-centred. Utilising information and data from previous studies and consumers experience of quit programs the Health Promotion team developed ‘Kick the Habit’.
‘Kick the Habit’ utilises a change management method (directly informed by consumer experiences) to address support workers assumptions, attitudes, knowledge and confidence to undertake conversations with consumers about their smoking behaviours.
Kick the Habit includes one on one coaching support with consumers who smoke to develop an individualized smoking management plan based on a person’s own goals and reasons for reducing or quitting. In addition, consumers are supported to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy to minimise symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal and reduce contraindication of mental health symptoms.
Consumers have been sharing quit stories as part of participating in ‘Kick the Habit’, a new approach to reducing tobacco use. We look forward to sharing more success stories later in the year.