From the the first Annual National Conference on Tobacco and Behavioral Health, which occurred May 19-20, 2014 in Bethesda, MD and was hosted by the Central East Addiction Technology Transfer Center, a program of The Danya Institute. You can see videos from the conference on our website www.ceattc.org (go to “Tobacco and Behavioral Health Resources” under “Special Topics”).
Having peers who have succeeded in recovering from tobacco dependence talk to smokers with mental illness offers advantages. Advantages of using peer counselors include reduced language and cultural barriers, increased trust and lowered defenses, and low cost. Peer counselors are often rated highly by other consumers and there is an added benefit in the modeling that comes from seeing peers do well and return to work. We have promoted community based advocacy and education through the CHOICES Program (Consumers Helping Others Improve their Condition by Ending Smoking). CHOICES employs mental health peer counselors known as Consumer Tobacco Advocates (CTA) to deliver the vital message to smokers with mental illness that addressing tobacco use is important and to motivate them to seek treatment. The philosophy of CHOICES is to bring information to smokers with mental illness about the harm of tobacco, as well as the benefits of quitting and possibilities of treatment. Additional goals are to enhance advocacy and education about addressing tobacco in mental health treatment settings through strong partnerships with a consumer advocacy organization (Mental Health America) and state government (New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services).
Participants will be able to:
- Understand the benefits of using peer counselors to disseminate health education information and increase demand for tobacco services
- Examine existing community relationships and partnerships that will help promote culture change in mental health systems.
- Understand how materials like newsletters and websites increase the reach of peer counselors
- Become familiar with CHOICES, a peer delivered tobacco dependence education and intervention program in New Jersey