People with mental health disorders are not receiving enough help to quit, despite being twice as likely to smoke.
Doctors have warned that the NHS in England is not giving enough help to people with mental health conditions who smoke, and appear to be turning a blind eye to them.
People with mental health conditions are twice as likely to smoke, and tend to have bigger problems with addiction and reliance, but this has been overlooked by the NHS.
The report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists says that people with mental health problems are statistically smoking as much as ever, even though there has been a significant drop in smokers in general.
This is likely to be because they tend to be more addicted to smoking, and are not given the right support from the NHS to overcome this as they have accepted it as ‘normal behaviour’.
However, although people with depression and anxiety might start smoking because they find it helps, it soon starts to exacerbate their problems and so it is essential they receive this help.
The report shows that the NHS spends around £720m a year treating smoking-related illness in people with mental health disorders – mostly on people with depression or anxiety.
Prof John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Nottingham and report chairman, said:
The patients are seen as having a hard time and are ill so they need a cigarette and it is also a way for staff to build relationships and so they end up facilitating smoking breaks, finding time to supervise people who want to go outside to smoke, rather than spending resources on helping them to stop.
Paul Farmer, chief executive at the mental health charity Mind, said:
This report highlights once again that the needs of people with mental health problems are often overlooked or ignored.
A Department of Health spokesman said that the government are looking to help vulnerable groups, such as people with mental health disorders, stop smoking in the future:
This is an important issue, and frankly, a difficult one. We are aware that more work needs to be done to tackle it fully.