Cigarettes top priority among mentally ill
A new South Australian study shows that cigarettes, rather than food and shelter, are the top priority for many people with mental illnesses.
Research by Flinders Medical Centre social worker and PHD student, Sharon Lawn, has revealed that up to 90 per cent of mental health patients interviewed smoke cigarettes and use them to help manage their illness.
Ms Lawn says there is a complex range of reasons for the huge problem.
"It fills a void, the same with people who are unemployed or in prison," Ms Lawn said.
"It's a self-medication of existential losses and grief and just feeling downtrodden, I think.
"Many of the people I spoke to clearly were choosing cigarettes over other priorities," she said.
The study also found an alarming number of mental health nurses were using cigarettes to deal with high stress levels.