Mental Health Equals Mental Wealth
With mental health increasingly becoming a topic of discussion, Tobacco Free Florida is launching Mental Health Equals Mental Wealth to inform about tobacco’s disproportionate impact on people diagnosed with mental and behavioral health conditions, educate about the benefits of quitting and highlight the free cessation support for people looking to improve their mental health and wellness. In May, Mental Health Awareness Month explores ways to achieve positive change, a major discussion in this area can be the importance of quitting tobacco for good.
Tobacco and nicotine use can lead to negative health consequences among individuals with mental and/or behavioral health conditions.
- People with behavioral health conditions die about five years earlier than people without such conditions, and more than 50% are from tobacco-attributable diseases.
- Nicotine has not been found to directly cause mental health conditions, but vaping and nicotine could worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Nicotine has mood-altering effects that can temporarily mask the negative symptoms of mental health disorders, putting people with such disorders at higher risk for cigarette use and nicotine addiction.
If you are a smoker who wants to quit, here are important tips that can help.
- Set a quit date, ideally within two weeks.
- Remove tobacco products from your home, car, and workplace.
- Avoid drinking alcohol while you’re quitting cigarettes. Drinking alcohol can trigger cravings for a cigarette.
- Anticipate challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal, particularly during the critical first few weeks.
- Ask others not to smoke around you. Allowing them to smoke around you can make it harder for you to quit.
- Identify reasons for quitting and the benefits of quitting.
HOW TO OVERCOME THE INFLUENCES OF TOBACCO ON THE MIND
For Current Tobacco Users
Find alternatives to smoking when having anxiety or feeling stressed, such as:
- Speaking to a licensed therapist or counselor.
- Going on a long walk outside for fresh air.
- Picking up a new hobby or exercising.
- Hanging out with friends.
- Practice relaxation techniques, like meditating or yoga.
Seek support from trusted voices, such as doctors and medical professionals.
- Have open conversations about tobacco use and behavioral health conditions with loved ones and/or trusted individuals.
For Trusted Voices and Healthcare Providers
Educate the public about mental health and behavioral health conditions.
- Stop the social stigma behind seeking mental help and support.
- Provide the resources needed for individuals of low socioeconomic status and targeted populations to quit nicotine while living with mental illnesses.
Prompt your colleagues to:
- Understand how lack of access to healthcare can affect a person’s mental health when it comes to tobacco and nicotine use.
- Urge their patients with behavioral health and/or mental health conditions to quit tobacco and refer them to Tobacco Free Florida.
- Highlight how tobacco disproportionally affects underprivileged communities and their overall mental health.
Demand behavioral health facilities and treatment centers to be tobacco and nicotine free.
- Tobacco treatment can enhance long-term recovery for a person with other substance use disorders.
- Effective tobacco control policies need to be issued for people with mental health conditions.
- By implementing smokefree policies, it can support wellness, recovery and resilience among patients and staff in the facility.
- A person recovering from a tobacco use disorder at the same time they are recovering from an alcohol use disorder can have a 25% greater chance of staying clean and sober.