May 31, 2007
Contact: Terri Guess
Phone: (973) 972-3000
UMDNJ Manual Designed to Help the Mentally Ill to be Distributed Nationally
Mental health professionals will use to help patients quit smoking
NEW BRUNSWICK — Mental health professionals treating nicotine addicted mental illness patients will now have access to a manual offering a special group treatment intervention approach to stem tobacco use and dependence. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is distributing nationally Learning About Healthy Living, a wellness publication funded by the New Jersey State Division of Mental Health Services.
Tobacco use and dependence is very common among people with serious mental illness and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, (NASMHPD) Medical Directors Council. People with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than Americans without a mental illness.
Despite these overwhelming statistics, treatment options are limited, especially for lower motivated smokers who may not be ready for a “quit smoking” treatment. Thus there is a need to develop innovative new treatments for the majority of tobacco smokers with serious mental illness who are not ready to quit and for this treatment to be delivered in the mental health setting.
"People with serious and persistent mental illness are dying 25 years earlier than people without these illnesses,” said Christopher O. Kosseff, president of University Behavioral Healthcare. “Among the major causes of premature death and physical illness is the high rate of tobacco use. With the full support of the New Jersey Division of Mental Health, we now have a specific, excellent tool to help people end their nicotine addiction."
This LAHL manual is now available publicly on the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health Services website and several UMDNJ websites. It is hoped that a broader dissemination of this valued resource will help more smokers with mental illness across the country. It can now be viewed and downloaded from the following sites:
Co-authors and contributors from UMDNJ included members of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Division of Addiction Psychiatry, University Behavioral Health Care UBHC, and the School of Public Health-Tobacco Dependence Program. Dr. Jill Williams, primary author of the LAHL is an Addictions Psychiatrist specializing in tobacco addiction and the Director of Addiction Psychiatry at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
LAHL is a 20-session group treatment approach that is designed for all types of smokers with different mental health problems. The goal of the intervention is to increase individual’s awareness about the risks of tobacco use, treatment options, enhance motivation to address tobacco, and to begin by making other healthy life choices. The LAHL manual was revised with input from mental health consumers and treatment staff, making it informative yet practical and easy to use.
In 2006, the NJ Division of Mental Health Services following former Governor Richard Codey’ s Executive Order #78 put forth a Wellness and Recovery Transformation Statement to move the mental health system toward a recovery orientation that promotes wellness (http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dmhs/wellness_recovery.htm). This represented a fundamental shift to a recovery orientation challenging the entire system to assist consumers in their transition to wellness and adjust services accordingly, including the expansion of services for addressing tobacco such as the LAHL manual.
Kevin Martone, Assistant Commissioner of the State Division of Mental Health Services endorsed the manual as an example of what is needed to address mental health issues. “The premature mortality among people with mental illness is an unconscionable double standard when the life expectancy for the general population is increasing,” said Martone. “This manual is one example of what is needed to address this problem.”
“Tobacco use by patients with serious and persistent mental disorders is a devastating clinical problem that ruins physical health, complicates treatment and brings significant costs to patients, health care systems and society,” said Dr. Javier Escobar, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. “Effective interventions in this area are most needed. This is in my opinion the best manual of its kind now available and should become the model for others to emulate.”
The manual currently distributed for use in more than 50 mental health programs statewide, has been in use since 2004. Feedback from staff and consumers has been positive supporting that this was a feasible and acceptable model for helping people with low motivation to address tobacco and begin a healthier lifestyle. The LAHL treatment approach supports the current focus on wellness and recovery within the mental health field and is being used in mental health sites with great success.
The NASMHPD have included the manual in its Tobacco-free Living in Psychiatric Settings Best Practices Tool Kit entitled “Tobacco-Free Living in Psychiatric Settings” for distribution to state operated mental health facilities nationwide.
Media interested in interviewing Dr. Williams should contact Terri Guess at 973-972-5000.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.