“This landmark legislation supports the Division of Mental Health Services' efforts to move toward a system which focuses on wellness and recovery,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “The support of the Governor and State Legislators is timely; as the new hospital at Greystone Park in Parsippany will now be able to open as a smoke-free facility.”
For the past year, Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital has been prescribing smoking cessation treatments, running “Healthy Living Groups” and successfully creating smoke-free units. Educational information has been posted and distributed throughout the hospital and to family members; and a training curriculum has been implemented for staff members.
“Nicotine addiction negatively affects both clinical treatment and life span,” said DHS Assistant Commissioner and board member of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Kevin Martone . “Given what we know we should not contribute to this process while patients are under our care.”
Psychiatric Hospitals Smoking Cessation/Ban
DHS Press Release April 14, 2008 (page 2 of 2)
Accepted research in the field of mental health reflects that people with mental illness live an average of twenty-five years less than the general population and approximately seventy-five percent are estimated to be addicted to nicotine.
In testimony before the Assembly Human Services Committee in support of this legislation on March 6, 2008, Assistant Commissioner Martone, who oversees the Division of Mental Health Services described that, in October 2006, NASMHPD issued a report on smoking in state operated psychiatric facilities. Martone cited an excerpt from the report that states, “Science as well as experiences in mental health facilities have also shown that tobacco smoking leads to negative outcomes for mental health treatment, the treatment milieu, overall wellness and, ultimately, recovery.”
“Nicotine replacement therapy is a positive resolution,” said Assistant Commissioner Martone. “As providers of healthcare, our state psychiatric hospitals should treat the illness, whether it is schizophrenia, nicotine dependence or high blood pressure.”
Typically, a patient is admitted to a state hospital following a stay at an inpatient psychiatric unit of a local hospital. Seventeen inpatient psychiatric units located in local New Jersey hospitals, which send patients to the state hospitals for further treatment, are currently smoke-free.
DMHS operates five state psychiatric hospitals with a mission to provide for the psychiatric and physical well-being of people with serious mental illness. In partnership with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, University Behavioral Health Care, DMHS developed and funded a manual that is considered a best practice tool nationally regarding smoking cessation. This manual and a consumer-operated support program are currently being used in New Jersey state psychiatric hospitals and are referenced in a National Association of Mental Health Directors national best-practices toolkit, “ Tobacco Free Living in Psychiatric Settings.” Further development of this DMHS ongoing cessation program will be coordinated with the New Jersey Departments of Health and Senior Services and Personnel, as required by the new law.