Smoking and Your Mental Health

You might have heard that the NHS is getting serious about making its’ hospital grounds smoke free for everyone You might be wondering why It has been known for a long time that smoking is one of the top causes of avoidable early death and severe illness like cancer, heart and lung disease It makes no sense to allow smoking outside hospitals when there are hundreds of thousands of patients inside hospitals suffering from the harmful effects of smoking The NHS has a responsibility to raise awareness about the terrible harm that smoking does which is why staff have a duty to help people stop smoking while they are in hospital But, we know this change is not easy for anyone Joe has just been told that the smoke free hospitals grounds includes mental health units Did you know that 45% of all cigarettes are smoked by people with a mental health condition and that they can expect to die many years sooner than a non-smoker, due to their habit? You might be thinking that it’s your right to smoke and that no-one should try and stop you of course it’s entirely up to you if you continue to smoke once you leave the hospital But there is another side to this story you might want to consider You are probably struggling to pay for your habit, right? That’s because smoking costs a fortune 20 cigarettes a day costs roughly £270 per month That’s £3240 per year But the costs don’t stop there It takes huge amounts of ward staff time to escort people outside to smoke Time that would be better spent helping you in your journey to recovery Just imagine all the positive things we could all do with those extra minutes You might feel that smoking helps you cope with stress and that you can’t cope without it But, the smoking habit has a very sneaky way of giving you a feeling of short term relief from your nicotine craving which momentarily makes you feel a little calmer But that’s all its doing The truth is smoking increases anxiety and depression We know that once smokers kick the nicotine addiction their mental health improves in many ways Their stress levels will be lower and if they take psychiatric medication there is a good chance that this will work better than it did while they were smoking This often means they can reduce the dosage and experience less side effects You will be amazed how quickly you feel the positive effects of quitting Withdrawal symptoms usually only last a week or two After that, you will begin to feel much better in so many ways Many smokers wish they’d never started in the first place because they’re already feeling it’s ill effects and know it’s only going to get worse You might have a nasty cough or be short of breath and are worrying about what the future holds If you stop now you can stop the harm from getting worse As a non-smoker, you can expect to be happier healthier and richer! And your friends and family will benefit from all that too Unless I had made the choice in my own mind to say I wanted to stop cigarettes I would never have stopped I feel more self confident People are talking to me in a completely different way and just enjoyed being with me As far as my physical health is concerned it was quite striking The difference was I was playing tennis I was enjoying the social element of the tennis club and I was quite happy in myself in the way my life way going It was the most profound thing that has happened I didn’t actually find it that hard to be honest You’ve got to put things in separate boxes Put the depression in one box, put the smoking in another box and deal with one box at a time It’s improved my life immensely I know at this stage I can’t reverse the damage I’ve done but I don’t know what it is that takes the penny to drop but it will only drop in your own time We really don’t want to cause any stress to patients who are smokers and are coming on to our wards at a difficult time in their lives already We really hope our patients will try and take the long term view we really don’t want to cause you any distress But what we do want is for you to have a go at stopping smoking while we’re there to support you My job is to help the patients as much as I can to understand the dangers associated with smoking and explain to them that obviously we as nurses our job is to promote health We understand that smoking is a tough addiction to crack You may have tried to quit before and failed because you found it too hard and now you are reluctant to try again We will do all we can to find new and better ways to take the stress out of stopping A range of Nicotine Replacement therapies will be offered immediately to smokers that are admitted to our Mental Health Unit as well as a range of activities on the occupational therapy programme such as relaxation, exercise and art groups We now also allow the use of certain types of e-cigarettes in single rooms and at many of our Units outside the building too Most experts say that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than real cigarettes and they are playing a beneficial role in helping smokers quit throughout the UK We also offer a special smoking cessation course at the CNWL Recovery and Well-being College it’s called the Go Smoke Free course and it provides extra help for smokers with stress or mental health problems There are so many different ways that you can try and we do find a combination of things usually works better not just smoking cessation medications such a s NRT or even maybe e-cigarettes but actually all the practical things that you do to change your life in so many ways for the better if you’re trying to stop smoking and you’ve tried before and it may have been a bit difficult just remember that it may take several runs at this before you finally succeed in fact the average is about seven times so never give up giving up The most important step towards stopping permanently is making that decision to do so We can’t make that decision for you that has to come from you But, the moment you are ready we will do all we can to support you in your recovery journey There is so much help and support available to get you through the quitting process successfully The road to quitting may look long and difficult from where you are standing now but with the right support it can be much easier than you think We can help you get there

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