NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS

                                                          Email:  namiorangeny@warwick.net
                                                      Website:  namiorangeny.org
                                                  Telephone:  845-956-NAMI (6264) 
                                                  Toll-free:   1-866-906-NAMI (6264)

                                               FaceBook:   NAMI Orange County, NY
                                               FaceBook:  NAMI Orange Discussion Group

ADVOCACY


Upcoming Events/Outreaches


See details
of upcoming NAMI
meetings by clicking links below:


 
NAMI Connection
a peer-led support group for adults living with a mental illness held
every Friday

6-7:30 p.m.

no fee,
no registration


Thurs., Dec. 7
7 p.m.
NAMI Family Support Group
(Goshen)

no fee
no registration


Mon., Dec. 11
No education mtg
in December

(There will be a holiday party for members, their families & invited guests. Emails will be sent with details)


NEW

Mon., Dec. 18
7 p.m.
NAMI Family Support Group
at ORMC

Conf. Room #7

No fee,
no registration


 

Thurs., Dec. 21
7 p.m.
MHA Family & Friends Together
Support Group


 

Wed., Dec. 27
6:30 p.m.
MHA Family & Friends Plus
Social Group

Please RSVP


NAMI Basics
free 6 week course
Call Dhanu 294-2749
to register now for NAMI Basics in the Spring (since class size is limited)


NAMI
Family-to-Family

free 12 week course
Call Dhanu 294-2749
to register now for NAMI F2F in the Spring (since class size is limited)



 NAMI Presentations:

  -Ending the Silence

-In Our Own Voice

arranged by request

 

NEWS:


NEW MEDICATION FDA-APPROVED FOR
TARDIVE DYSKINESIA


Mental Health Experts: Ban Conversion Therapy

Associated Press Article, THR, April 26, 2017

Albany--New York's mental health leaders are uniting to condemn psychological treatments designed to alter the sexual orientation of a minor.  The New York State Psychological Association and National Association of Social Workers' New York chapters on Tuesday urged lawmakers to outlaw conversion therapy, in which a counselor or a psychologist attempts to change a minor's sexuality.

Under pending legislation, any licensed mental health practititioner who performs conversion therapy could be cited for unprofessional conduct.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year barred insurance coverage for the therapy for minors and prohibited state mental health facilities from offering it. Six states and Washington, D.C. have similar laws.


Middletown In-patient Treatment Center
to Help Problem Gamblers


Richard C. Ward at 117 Seward Avenue in Middletown is one of six state-run addiction treatment centers at which problem gamblers in New York can now receive in-patient care. 

Gov. Cuomo said that the treatment centers have been granted waivers allowing them to admit people with problem gambling as their primary diagnosis.  The centers traditionally accept people with chemical dependencies.  The centers now have problem gambling clinicians on staff to provide inpatient services to people for up to 30 days. The facilities accept all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

"As part of New York's smart gaming policy we are committed to making sure that individuals who need help with gambling addiction have access to services in their own communities," said state Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams.



Article in Poughkeepsie Journal regarding Stigma



NAMI Mourns the Loss of Patty Duke
(excerpt from NAMI-NYS Newsletter)

The mental health community lost one of our greatest champions, Academy Award winning actress Patty Duke. Ms. Duke was the first celebrity to openly discuss having bi-polar disorder and her courage helped countless people.

She was also a good friend to NAMI and a past recipient of the Lionel Aldridge Award. NAMI Executive Director Mary Giliberti said, "People like Patty advance our mission to break down stigma and the barriers it creates for people who live with mental illness. She once said, 'Stigma is born of ignorance and fear. The more that we can teach people, the less frightened they will be. Most important is that those who need help, who are feeling the way I felt when I was lying in bed for three months at a time, will know that I'm not inventing this, that it is real, that hope exists for them."

Click here to view NAMI full article on Patty Duke's passing. NAMI-NYS is grateful for her legacy and sends our condolences to her family.


Mandatory Electronic Prescriptions

The NYS law that went into effect on March 27, 2015 allowed a one year delay on mandatory electronic prescriptions - which means that on March 27, 2016 all prescriptions must be made electronically from the physician to the pharmacy (no hand-written prescriptions). The law is meant to reduce fraud and prescription errors, would apply to all physicians and all medications.

For more details, view the New York state Education Department's Office of the Professions Electronic Transmittal of Prescriptions 

$400 Million Boost In Budget for Mental Health

The House and Senate passed and the President signed the $1.1 trillion 2016 budget bill (HR 2029) late last Friday, Dec. 18. The great news is this budget bill includes important new investments in mental illness research and services including:

  • $85.4 million boost for research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • $50 million more for services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • $255 million increase for veterans mental health treatment

Read on to see more about how the 2016 budget impacts people with mental illness.

Mental Illness Research Funding

The 2016 budget bill includes the largest increase to mental illness research at NIMH since 2012. Overall, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received a $2 billion increase, boosting funding to $32.1 billion. For 2016 the NIMH budget will be set at $1.548 billion–an $85.4 million increase above the 2015 level.

The budget bill also gives $150 million for the President’s BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies), an $85 million increase over the 2015 level and $15 million more than the President requested. This increase shows the strong bipartisan support that funding for the NIH has achieved in Congress.

Mental Health Services Funding

SAMHSA will receive a $160 million increase over 2015 levels, for a total budget of $3.8 billion. This is the largest single year increase for SAMHSA in the agency’s 20-year history. It shows the rise of both mental health and substance abuse treatment as national priorities.

The Mental Health Block Grant program received a $50 million increase–boosting funding to $532.57 million. Most importantly, the bill adds a series of new requirements on the Block Grant program to ensure that this increase is focused on evidence-based programs targeted to serious mental illness. The bill also doubles  the current 5% “set aside” for first episode psychosis (FEP) programs to 10%. NAMI, in partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), held a Congressional briefing in October to focus attention on the promise of First Episode Psychosis (FEP) programs such as those established through the NIMH Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) initiative and to ask Congress for this increase in funding.

The bill also provides $15 million for a new Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) pilot program through SAMHSA. NAMI will be encouraging SAMHSA to focus on funding projects modeled after San Francisco's new AOT program that include a significant outreach and engagement component prior to AOT or if an AOT order is necessary, to assist and empower people under AOT orders to realize their personal goals and achieve better outcomes.

Most other programs at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) were level funded at their 2015 levels including:

  • $64.6 million for the PATH program – a state grant program to the states for outreach and engagement services for homeless individuals with serious mental illness.
  • $117 million for the Children’s Mental Health program–$300,000 below the current level.
  • $36.1 million for the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program.

Most programs under the CMHS Programs of Regional and National Significance (PRNS) are continued at current levels. Among these items are:

  • $49.8 million for the Primary-Behavioral Health Care Integration (PBHCI) program, which supports the co-location of services in behavioral health and primary care settings.
  • $54.9 million for suicide prevention activities, including the Garrett Lee Smith state and campus grant programs.
  • $49.9 million for new Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) grants—a $10 million increase.
  • $14.9 million for Mental Health First Aid training.
  • $30.7 million for homelessness prevention programs.

Supportive Housing Funding

While the budget bill includes an increase of $1.6 billion for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), most of that increase will go toward renewing rent and operating subsidies for existing units across HUD’s programs. For supportive housing programs, the bill does not include increases put forward in President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal.

In February, the President proposed $301 million in additional funding for development of new permanent supportive housing (PSH) under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. These new funds were projected to help end chronic homelessness by 2017. The President’s budget also called for a $25 million increase for the HUD Section 811 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PRA) program. These housing units are made available to states through a competitive process tied to efforts to promote community integration as an alternative to restrictive settings such as board and care homes serving people with severe disabilities (including serious mental illness).

The budget does not include either of these requests and instead provides only enough funding to renew the operating subsidies associated with existing PSH units in both programs. Funding includes:

  • $2.25 billion for McKinney-Vento, which is $115 million above the 2015 level, but $230 million below the President’s request.
  • $250 million to the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program under McKinney-Vento. ESG grants go towards:
    • Engaging homeless individuals and families living on the street.
    • Improving the number and quality of emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families.
    • Rapidly re-housing homeless individuals and families.
  • $1.918 billion for the Continuum of Care (CoC) competition. It is projected that only $27 million would be available within the CoC competition for new PSH units. The CoC Program is designed to:
    • Promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness.
    • Quickly re-house homeless individuals and families while minimizing trauma.

For the HUD Section 811 program, the bill contains $150 million, an amount projected to fund renewal of all existing Project-Based Rental Assistance Contracts (PRACs)–roughly 30,000 housing units–with no funding for new units. The bill does include an additional $60 million in funding for new rental vouchers for supportive housing for veterans experiencing homelessness under the VASH program.

The budget bill also contains funding to renew all existing tenant-based and project based vouchers – $17.68 billion for tenant-based and $10.4 billion for project-based. It also boosts funding for the HOME program by $50 million, up to $950 million. Finally, the bill rejects a previous proposal in the House bill that would have redirected funds from the National Housing Trust Fund.

Veterans Funding

The funding bill provides an additional $2.369 billion in forward funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Care for 2017. This is $1.5 billion more than the 2015 bill. The VA operates on a two-year forward funding budget cycle in order to manage long-term planning for the largest health system in the nation. For Veterans mental health, the bill specifies $7.455 billion for 2016 and $7.715 billion in forward funding for 2017. This is a $255 million increase for the current year. Finally, the budget bill gives $630.7 billion for Medical and Prosthetics Research at the VA for 2016, a $41.8 million increase over current levels.

Criminal Justice Funding

The 2016 budget bill contains an increase of $1.5 million for Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration grants funded through the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. This program, whose total funding will be $10 million in fiscal year 2016, provides vital grants to states and communities to support:

  • Jail diversion
  • Mental health courts
  • Law enforcement training
  • Community reentry programs for people with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders involved with criminal justice systems
- See more at: https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/$400-Million-Boost-In-Budget-for-Mental-Health#sthash.sxCcRwRB.dpuf

$400 Million Boost In Budget for Mental Health

The House and Senate passed and the President signed the $1.1 trillion 2016 budget bill (HR 2029) late last Friday, Dec. 18. The great news is this budget bill includes important new investments in mental illness research and services including:

  • $85.4 million boost for research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • $50 million more for services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • $255 million increase for veterans mental health treatment

Read on to see more about how the 2016 budget impacts people with mental illness.

Mental Illness Research Funding

The 2016 budget bill includes the largest increase to mental illness research at NIMH since 2012. Overall, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received a $2 billion increase, boosting funding to $32.1 billion. For 2016 the NIMH budget will be set at $1.548 billion–an $85.4 million increase above the 2015 level.

The budget bill also gives $150 million for the President’s BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies), an $85 million increase over the 2015 level and $15 million more than the President requested. This increase shows the strong bipartisan support that funding for the NIH has achieved in Congress.

Mental Health Services Funding

SAMHSA will receive a $160 million increase over 2015 levels, for a total budget of $3.8 billion. This is the largest single year increase for SAMHSA in the agency’s 20-year history. It shows the rise of both mental health and substance abuse treatment as national priorities.

The Mental Health Block Grant program received a $50 million increase–boosting funding to $532.57 million. Most importantly, the bill adds a series of new requirements on the Block Grant program to ensure that this increase is focused on evidence-based programs targeted to serious mental illness. The bill also doubles  the current 5% “set aside” for first episode psychosis (FEP) programs to 10%. NAMI, in partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), held a Congressional briefing in October to focus attention on the promise of First Episode Psychosis (FEP) programs such as those established through the NIMH Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) initiative and to ask Congress for this increase in funding.

The bill also provides $15 million for a new Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) pilot program through SAMHSA. NAMI will be encouraging SAMHSA to focus on funding projects modeled after San Francisco's new AOT program that include a significant outreach and engagement component prior to AOT or if an AOT order is necessary, to assist and empower people under AOT orders to realize their personal goals and achieve better outcomes.

Most other programs at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) were level funded at their 2015 levels including:

  • $64.6 million for the PATH program – a state grant program to the states for outreach and engagement services for homeless individuals with serious mental illness.
  • $117 million for the Children’s Mental Health program–$300,000 below the current level.
  • $36.1 million for the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program.

Most programs under the CMHS Programs of Regional and National Significance (PRNS) are continued at current levels. Among these items are:

  • $49.8 million for the Primary-Behavioral Health Care Integration (PBHCI) program, which supports the co-location of services in behavioral health and primary care settings.
  • $54.9 million for suicide prevention activities, including the Garrett Lee Smith state and campus grant programs.
  • $49.9 million for new Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) grants—a $10 million increase.
  • $14.9 million for Mental Health First Aid training.
  • $30.7 million for homelessness prevention programs.

Supportive Housing Funding

While the budget bill includes an increase of $1.6 billion for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), most of that increase will go toward renewing rent and operating subsidies for existing units across HUD’s programs. For supportive housing programs, the bill does not include increases put forward in President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal.

In February, the President proposed $301 million in additional funding for development of new permanent supportive housing (PSH) under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. These new funds were projected to help end chronic homelessness by 2017. The President’s budget also called for a $25 million increase for the HUD Section 811 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PRA) program. These housing units are made available to states through a competitive process tied to efforts to promote community integration as an alternative to restrictive settings such as board and care homes serving people with severe disabilities (including serious mental illness).

The budget does not include either of these requests and instead provides only enough funding to renew the operating subsidies associated with existing PSH units in both programs. Funding includes:

  • $2.25 billion for McKinney-Vento, which is $115 million above the 2015 level, but $230 million below the President’s request.
  • $250 million to the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program under McKinney-Vento. ESG grants go towards:
    • Engaging homeless individuals and families living on the street.
    • Improving the number and quality of emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families.
    • Rapidly re-housing homeless individuals and families.
  • $1.918 billion for the Continuum of Care (CoC) competition. It is projected that only $27 million would be available within the CoC competition for new PSH units. The CoC Program is designed to:
    • Promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness.
    • Quickly re-house homeless individuals and families while minimizing trauma.

For the HUD Section 811 program, the bill contains $150 million, an amount projected to fund renewal of all existing Project-Based Rental Assistance Contracts (PRACs)–roughly 30,000 housing units–with no funding for new units. The bill does include an additional $60 million in funding for new rental vouchers for supportive housing for veterans experiencing homelessness under the VASH program.

The budget bill also contains funding to renew all existing tenant-based and project based vouchers – $17.68 billion for tenant-based and $10.4 billion for project-based. It also boosts funding for the HOME program by $50 million, up to $950 million. Finally, the bill rejects a previous proposal in the House bill that would have redirected funds from the National Housing Trust Fund.

Veterans Funding

The funding bill provides an additional $2.369 billion in forward funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Care for 2017. This is $1.5 billion more than the 2015 bill. The VA operates on a two-year forward funding budget cycle in order to manage long-term planning for the largest health system in the nation. For Veterans mental health, the bill specifies $7.455 billion for 2016 and $7.715 billion in forward funding for 2017. This is a $255 million increase for the current year. Finally, the budget bill gives $630.7 billion for Medical and Prosthetics Research at the VA for 2016, a $41.8 million increase over current levels.

Criminal Justice Funding

The 2016 budget bill contains an increase of $1.5 million for Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration grants funded through the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. This program, whose total funding will be $10 million in fiscal year 2016, provides vital grants to states and communities to support:

  • Jail diversion
  • Mental health courts
  • Law enforcement training
  • Community reentry programs for people with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders involved with criminal justice systems
- See more at: https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/$400-Million-Boost-In-Budget-for-Mental-Health#sthash.sxCcRwRB.dpuf


State may expand 'problem-solving' specialty-court access

Times Herald Record: September 21, 2015 by Heather Yakin

Right now, if people facing minor criminal charges qualify for a specialty court program for veterans or people with mental illness, they can only get into the program if they're in the right jurisdiction. Otherwise, they're shut out from interventions that could help them.

The state Office of Court Administration is weighing a rule change that would allow the transfer of low-level criminal cases for eligible defendants to the so-called "problem-solving" courts in the same county.

The plan is getting a warm reception.

"Whether or not someone gets the type of services they need shouldn't depend on where in the county they happen to live," said Kevin Walsh, managing attorney at the Orange County Legal Aid Society.

the best known of New York's problem-solving courts are the drug treatment courts which have shown success in reducing re-arrests among the participants.

There is a smattering of local specialty courts: Middletown and Port Jervis have mental health courts, Newburgh has a veterans' court and Sullivan County has a regional veterans' court. Newburgh and Kingson have domestic violence courts. Enrollment requires consent from the defense and prosecution. The courts provide appropriate treatment, as well as judicial supervision.

"It's been shown to be beneficial not only to our clients, but to the community," Walsh said.

Christopher Borek, chief assistant district attorney in Orange County, said District Attorney David Hoovler supports the specialty treatment courts, and has made a point to funnel defendants into those programs rather than pushing for prison or jail, when appropriate.

Sending appropriate defendants to jurisdictions where they can get those services would save judicial resources, Borek said.

Because specialty courts draw on so many resources, it's not feasible for every town and village court to have them. Permitting court transfers allows more people to benefit according to the May 18 memo in support of the rule written by the office of the state's chief administrative judge.

The state court system's Administrative Board - made up of Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and the four presiding judges of the Appellate Division - is expected to weigh the proposed rule change at its September 24 meeting.

If the board approves the proposal, the measure will go to the Court of Appeals for final approval.

Heather Yakin will publish follow-up reports.

 


 

A New Act Will Help Those Affected by Mental Illness Save Money

By Andrew Sperling, NAMI Director of Federal Legislative Advocacy

 

The Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE Act, was signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 19. This new law allows some families and individuals to establish tax-free savings accounts for the qualified expenses of people with blindness, physical or mental disabilities without the fear of losing government benefits.

Under the ABLE Act, people living with disabilities will be able to deposit up to $14,000 annually in a qualified savings account and save up to $100,000 without losing eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Setting up an account will not affect eligibility for Medicaid. The law also allows the account to earn tax-free interest. Funds in ABLE accounts can be used to pay for health care, education, and other expenses, including housing.

However, in the final stages of the legislative process an important restriction was included on ABLE accounts: only people whose onset of disability occurred before age 26 will be eligible. This means that many adults living with serious mental illness will not be eligible for these accounts. It is important to note that the age of 26 is not related to the onset of illness, but rather the point at which the Social Security Administration (SSA) deemed an individual to be so disabled that they became eligible for benefits under SSI. For many adults with serious mental illness this is long after their initial diagnosis.

Why was this restriction put in the ABLE Act? The cost. Earlier versions of the ABLE Act did not include this restriction on eligibility. However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the cost would exceed more than $20 billion over the coming decade. With this age 26 eligibility requirement in place, the projected 10 year costs were lowered to $2 billion. This forced the bill’s sponsors to accept this restriction in order to pass the bill.


 

Governor Cuomo Signs into Law the Reintegration of People Living With a Mental Illness

 


 

 Occupations, Inc. has changed its name to

ACCESS: Supports for Living


 

World's first anti-psychotic patch
being tested by mental health trust

Wednesday 6th August 2014

By Hardeep Matharu

The world’s first anti-psychotic patch for people with disorders such as schizophrenia is being trialled by a mental health trust.

Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s research and development team is working with Richmond Pharmacology, a clinical research organisation, to investigate the use of a patch which releases the medication asenapine through the skin into the bloodstream.

This is an alternative non-invasive method of treatment to taking tablets or receiving injections.

Asenapine is licensed to manage the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in America and in the UK for treatment of bipolar disorder, but this is the first time it has been administered using a patch on the skin.

Evidence suggests the gradual absorption of the drug over a longer period of time can reduce side-effects associated with taking it.

 

 


 

USA Today-

Cost of Not Caring: Stigma Set in Stone
Mentally Ill Suffer in Sick Health System

Click on the link above to read an excellent article in USA Today (06/26/14) divided into four chapters:

  • people with mental illness face legal discrimination
  • many wait nearly a decade for treatment
  • advocates chip away at discriminatory policies
  • overcoming the shame - speaking up heals old wounds which features David Granirer, Founder of Stand Up For Mental Health

 

 


 

    NAMI Calls on Congress to Promote Nationwide Expansion of Police Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT)
    The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is calling for nationwide expansion of Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) to reduce fatal events involving police and people living with mental illness.


     

    NAMI Celebrates Victory in Preserving Medicare Part D Access to Psychiatric Medications

      

    ARLINGTON, Va., March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today issued the following statement by NAMI Executive Director Mary Giliberti in response to the announcement by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that it will not move forward to "finalize" proposed rule changes under Me dicare Part D that would have restricted access to antidepressant and antipsychotic medications:

     

    "Less than one full working day since the official comment period on the proposed rule ended and one day before the House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill to block the proposed changes, HHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has indicated that it has heard the concerns of people living with mental illness and others over the elimination of three protected drug classifications under Medicare Part D.

     

    "In a letter to members of Congress, CMS has recognized 'the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input' and declared that it 'does not plan to finalize the proposal at this time.' The agency has promised not to advance 'some or all of the changes' in the future without first receiving additional stakeholder 'input.'

     

    "For now, for people living with mental illness the crisis has been averted. The threat of restricted access has essentially been stopped-although we will continue to support the pending legislation currently scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, March 11, if House leaders decide to complete that process.

     

    "We thank CMS for responding to the concerns of individuals and families affected by mental illness and both thank and congratulate the thousands of individuals who responded to NAMI's call by submitting official comments or signing NAMI's online petition in opposition to the proposed rule. NAMI will of course continue working to protect access to necessary medications in all health care programs, whether today or in the future."

     

     

     


    Smoking Cessation for Patients Called an Urgent Priority
    article in the Psychiatric News

     

     

    Persons with Mental Health Conditions
    Found More Likely to Use Nicotine-delivery Devices 


     

    Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that people living with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions are twice as likely to have tried e-cigarettes and three times as likely to be current users of the controversial battery-powered nicotine-delivery devices, as people without mental health disorders.

    They are also more susceptible to trying e-cigarettes in the future in the belief that doing so will help them quit, the scientists said. The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.

    The study was published in the May 13 online issue of Tobacco Control.

    "The faces of smokers in America in the 1960s were the ‘Mad Men’ in business suits," said lead author Sharon Cummins, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. "They were fashionable and had disposable income. Those with a smoking habit today are poorer, have less education, and, as this study shows, have higher rates of mental health conditions."

    By some estimates, people with psychiatric disorders consume approximately 30 to 50 percent of all cigarettes sold annually in the U.S.

    “Since the safety of e-cigarettes is still unknown, their use by nonsmokers could put them at risk,” Cummins said. Another concern is that the widespread use of e-cigarettes could reverse the social norms that have made smoking largely socially unacceptable.

    The study shows that smokers, regardless of their mental health condition, are the primary consumers of the nicotine delivery technology. People with mental health disorders also appear to be using e-cigarettes for the same reasons as other smokers – to reduce potential harm to their health and to help them break the habit.

    "So far, nonsmokers with mental health disorders are not picking up e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking," Cummins said.

    The study is based on a survey of Americans’ smoking history, efforts to quit and their use and perceptions about e-cigarettes. People were also asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, depression or other mental health condition.

    Among the 10,041 people who responded to the survey, 27.8 percent of current smokers had self-reported mental health conditions, compared with 13.4 percent of non-smokers; 14.8 percent of individuals with mental health conditions had tried e-cigarettes, and 3.1 percent were currently using them, compared with 6.6 percent and 1.1 percent without mental health conditions, respectively.

    In addition, 60.5 percent of smokers with mental health conditions indicated that they were somewhat likely or very likely to try e-cigarettes in the future, compared with 45.3 percent of smokers without mental health conditions.

    "People with mental health conditions have largely been forgotten in the war on smoking," Cummins said. "But because they are high consumers of cigarettes, they have the most to gain or lose from the e-cigarette phenomenon. Which way it goes will depend on what product regulations are put into effect and whether e-cigarettes ultimately prove to be useful in helping smokers quit."

    Co-authors of this study include Shu-Hong Zhu and Anthony C. Gamst, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, UCSD; Gary J. Tedeschi, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center; and Mark G. Myers, Department of Psychiatry, UCSD.

    Funding for this research came from the National Cancer Institute (grant U01 CA154280).