Thursday, 28 March 2013

Shooting the messenger - doctors, smoking and mental health

Today the BBC is reporting on the latest press release from The Doctors:

The NHS in England is not doing enough to help people with mental health conditions quit smoking, an influential group of doctors has warned. 

The influential group (and to think I was kind to them just this morning on the radio) is the Royal College of Physicians aided and abetted in this case by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at Nottingham University. The top professor there had this to say about the mentally ill and smoking:

"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."

It seems to me that these influential doctors are doing the worst thing possible - focusing on something that is less harmful out of ideology. Rather than treating the mental illness, The Doctors tell us we must first stop the mentally ill from smoking - must spend "resources" on this rather than treating the mental health problem.

Perhaps, in an idle break from their nannying fussbucketry, the influential doctors might consider why people with mental health problems are more likely to smoke? Have these so-called "doctors" not thought for a second that, for someone with severe depression for example, a fag is a welcome little lift?

But no. Instead these supposed doctors want to take away another little pleasure, to regiment and control what the mentally ill do as if they're not able - with support - to live their own lives and make their own choices. And what makes matters worse is that those who claim advocacy on behalf of the mentally ill fail completely to tell The Doctors to shut up and treat the mental health problems. But MIND simply make a knee-jerk 'mentally ill people's needs aren't being met' statement - a complete failure considering that they had the chance to set matters straight.

The needs of those mentally ill people is support - whether medical or social - to allow them to lead a fuller live. And when that's done perhaps helping them to quit smoking has a chance of succeeding. In the meantime can we stop shooting the messenger and focus instead on the thing that means mentally ill people have such a lower life expectancy - their mental illness.



Ivan D said...

Please tell me that you were not publicly nice about the Royal College of Physicians Simon. It is and always has been the most authoritarian of the medical pressure groups that hide behind fancy names. It is a dreadful little clique that has no clue what compassionate medicine means and doesn't care. Why anyone would want to be a member is beyond me but knowing the medical profession I imagine that membership opens certain doors.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ever see the film One Flew Over The Cukoo Nest

Anonymous said...

That report has now been taken to new heights of wilful misinterpretation by the British Lung Foundation.

"Smoking may be a sign of psychiatric illness, experts say. Doctors should routinely consider referring people who smoke to mental health services, in case they need treatment, they add."


Junican at Boltonsmokersclub said...

Ir seems to me that these people are simply trying to find new groups to target. If you read the new anti-smoking strategy for Scotland:

you will see it blatantly stated that Tobacco Control intend to pay particular intention to attacking the poorest people by continuing to push for high taxes on tobacco. They actually spell it out.