Mental health providers should do more to help service users quit smoking, a group of experts has warned.
A report produced by the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network has revealed the disproportionate impact smoking has on services and service users.
One third of people with mental health problems smoke regularly, compared with one fifth among the rest of the population.
Up to 70% of patients in mental health units smoke, with half described as heavy smokers.
Also, smoking adds up to £40 million to the UK’s psychiatric drug costs because of the impact of smoking on the way the drugs are absorbed.
Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, said: “People with serious mental illness die up to 25 years earlier than their mentally healthy counterparts.
“If we are genuine about putting mental health on a par with physical health, we need to face up to the fact that smoking is responsible for a significant amount of the excess mortality of people with severe mental health problems.”
Dalton said it is “not in the best interests” of people who are unwell to enable them to smoke and more should be done.
He said: “We know people with mental health conditions can take longer to engage with stop smoking services, or require higher levels of support, but we must consider the whole person, not just their mental health in isolation.”
The report, Smoking and mental health was released two weeks before the start of the annual “Stoptober” campaign.