Posted on May 6, 2010
For the past year, Fountain House has offered a comprehensive program to help members and staff stop smoking. Funded and structured by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Fountain House is one of three organizations in the city testing this fledgling program.
Statistics show that individuals with mental illness are twice as likely to smoke as other people and that 35% of those with chronic mental illness are smokers. Within the Fountain House community, 25% of respondents identified themselves as smokers.
The program has produced several “quitters”: people who smoked at least a pack a day for 10 to 25 years, who now haven’t smoked for 3 months or longer. Many others have dramatically cut down on their smoking.
The program has five primary components:
- Education on the dangers of smoking and the benefits of quitting.
- Twice weekly “Breathe Free” support groups tailored to achieving positive outcomes. The groups are about sharing information, offering support, instilling confidence and building on coping skills.
- Nicotine replacement products, such as patches and gum, for those who are concerned about withdrawal symptoms.
- Policy changes at Fountain House to create an environment that minimizes the negative health effects of second-hand smoke and ensures a supportive environment for non-smokers and smokers who are trying to quit.
- Research to monitor changes in smoking patterns and to assess the effectiveness of the program.