Most young smokers with mental ill-health want to quit, but they are not confident in their ability to do so, a study by Orygen has found.
The research, published today in the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, found that 42 per cent of young people with mental ill-health smoke tobacco, and 75 per cent of them want to quit.
Orygen research fellow and lead author on the study, Dr Ellie Brown said that despite young people acknowledging that they should quit in future, most young people did not have a solid plan to do so.
“Of the young people in our study who were smoking, only 23 per cent had plans to quit smoking within the next month,” she said.
“And, of those young people, 44 per cent were confident that they could quit.”
The study surveyed 114 young people aged 15-25 years attending Orygen specialist and primary care services for mental ill-health in Sunshine, Victoria, throughout August 2017.
Dr Brown said the study also showed that participants lacked knowledge of the effects of smoking tobacco on both their physical and mental health.
Only 10 per cent of participants correctly identified that people who take particular antipsychotic medications need higher doses of medication if they also smoke tobacco.
However, 78 per cent of participants correctly identified that smoking fewer than five cigarettes was a health risk, although only 22 per cent of participants correctly identified that smoking does not make a person relax.
“Smoking actually increases a person’s heart rate and mimics other physiological symptoms of stress,” Dr Brown said. “These results show we need to be doing more to educate young people on the physical and mental health effects of smoking.”
Dr Brown said the findings highlighted the importance of educating young people with mental ill-health about the physical and mental health effects of smoking and supporting young smokers to quit.
“Mental health clinicians are uniquely placed to support young people with mental ill-health to quit smoking,” she said.
“The core skills that we have as clinicians equip us to work with people to understand and overcome barriers to change. It’s a matter of having the conversation and remembering to follow up.”
Tobacco smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide and has been the target of large-scale public health campaigns in Australia. However, these campaign messages have not resonated with people with mental ill-health.
“When you consider the elevated rates of smoking among adults with enduring mental ill-health, it is important that we not only support young people with mental ill-health to quit smoking, but that we also prevent them from starting smoking in the first place.”
The study received partial funding from Quit Victoria.
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