Two heads are better than one: Australian tobacco control experts' and mental health change champions' consensus on addressing the problem of high smoking rates among people with mental illness
Lawn, Sharon Joy
Coveney, John David
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Abstract Objective. The aims of the present study were to explore the beliefs of Australian experts in tobacco control and change champions working in mental health and tobacco cessation, and to identify measures for addressing the problem of high smoking rates for people with mental illness. Methods. Qualitative interviews were undertaken to explore participants' views, and the Delphi technique was used to achieve consensus on ways in which the problem would be best addressed. Results. This consensus centred on the need for leadership within the mental health system. The problem was reconceptualised from being solely the responsibility of the mental health sector into an issue that requires the combined resources of a partnership and shared leadership between government and non-government services, public health leaders, policy makers and people with mental illness and their families. Conclusions. Collaboration would raise the priority of the issue, reduce the debilitating effect of stigma and discrimination within the mental health sector and would place smoking reduction firmly on the political and public agenda. A recovery-orientated focus would increase the skill base and be inclusive of workers, families and carers of people with mental illness who face smoking issues on a daily basis. Reconceptualising this as an issue that would benefit from cooperation and partnerships would disrupt the notion that the problem is solely the responsibility of the mental health sector.