MHA was recently awarded a three year grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to implement an agency-wide tobacco cessation program. This grant allows us to continue our tobacco free initiative and expand our reach in cessation activities. Funding is provided for the program director and two peer specialists to receive training to become tobacco treatment specialists, an intensive 5 day course covering all aspects of the addiction and effective intervention. We were able to purchase carbon monoxide monitors, which not only measure current carbon monoxide levels, but show how quickly levels can change once nicotine use decreases. We also have purchased educational materials we can spread throughout the association.
Although smoking rates are decreasing throughout the country (current rate is approximately 16.8%), those with serious mental illness continue to use tobacco at high rates. Americans with mental illness account for 44% of all tobacco use and smoke at levels 2-3 times higher than the general population. Studies show, however, that those with mental illness are just as motivated to quit as the general population. Our goal is for each client/consumer affiliated with MHA to be assessed for tobacco use and be offered assistance to quit. The peer specialists will offer 1:1 counseling and groups for tobacco cessation. To date, 146 consumers have been asked if they would be interested in visiting with a cessation counselor; 42 have agreed. We are excited about the possibilities for our consumers and plan to expand services as the need grows; one possibility will be a tobacco cessation group for our staff.