Making mental health services ‘Smokefree’ in the South West

Over 60 mental health service professionals from the South West came together at Eastwood Park in Falfield on Thursday 25 January to focus on ways to reduce smoking in mental health services.

The Mental Health Programme Conference was hosted by 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, along with the South of England Collaborative Mental Health Quality and Patient Safety Improvement, which is supported by the South West, West of England and Kent Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Science Networks.

Conference delegates heard how teams from seven different mental health organisations are implementing the NHS’s Smokefree Challenge and the positive impact it can have on staff and service users’ health.

Attendees heard from Qasim Chowdary, Tobacco Control Manager for Public Health England (PHE), on the various reasons for organisations becoming ‘Smokefree’. PHE’s Health and Wellbeing Lead, Russ Moody, also pondered the question: ‘Does social marketing benefit the implementation of a Smokefree policy in a mental health setting?’

Phil and Simon Hough of GreyMattaz, a social enterprise, shared their own experiences of smoking cessation from a service user and carer perspective. Simon, a former service user and smoker, and his brother and carer Phil, talked about the practical and emotional issues around quitting smoking when suffering from a mental health condition.

Colleagues from Devon Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust used World Café style presentations to draw on their own personal experiences about what works and what doesn’t when embarking on the Smokefree journey.

Russ Moody, Health and Wellbeing Lead at PHE, offered some feedback, saying: ‘Congratulations on a superb event.’ As did delegates, with one saying: ‘I plan to spend more time in the inpatient area with service users, getting their perspectives on the Smokefree journey, exploring what works for them and what doesn’t, and finding out what service users need to support them.’

A similar event in 2018 for mental health organisations in the South East is currently being explored by the South of England Collaborative Mental Health Quality and Patient Safety Improvement. More information will be available on their website.

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