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Behavioral Health Advisory Forum Recommendations

Friday, July 22, 2011  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov

Behavioral Health Advisory Forum Recommendations Regarding Training and Supervision of Quitline Staff on Cessation Needs of Persons With Mental Illnesses and Substance Abuse Disorders

The issue of quitline services for those with behavioral health issues has been a growing concern to the quitline and behavioral health communities. In 2010, the Quitline Behavioral Health Advisory Forum (BHAF), which includes a number of leading NAQC members and experts in behavioral health, produced a report in consultation with NAQC titled "Do Quitlines Have a Role in Serving the Tobacco Cessation Needs of Persons with Mental Illnesses and Substance Abuse Disorders?” The report made several observations regarding how quitlines are serving this population, and several recommendations regarding proposed steps to help quitlines address the needs of this population more effectively.

NAQC has already taken action on the recommendation to include a screening question or questions in the NAQC Minimal Data Set as an optional question(s). The MDS Update Workgroup has approved questions proposed by BHAF as optional questions. Please view the full set of questions here. NAQC recommends these questions to you for your intake process.

A second recommendation from the 2010 BHAF report regarded training and supervision of quitline staff. The relevant recommendation from the report was:

Tobacco treatment specialists should receive regular training on behavioral health issues. It is important that quitline staff have a working understanding of how addictions and mental health issues are associated with tobacco use and may impact tobacco cessation efforts.

BHAF, in consultation with NAQC, has finalized their recommendations for broad training objectives and general supervision of quitline staff in this specific area. The report is available here. NAQC and BHAF are aware that quitlines all have well designed training and supervision protocols in place, and that there has been a great deal of interest regarding intervening with persons with behavioral health conditions. Because quitlines are at very different stages in their consideration of the topic, and due to the evolving nature of this issue, BHAF presents these recommendations as a tool and resource for continuing the discussion around ways to best serve tobacco users with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders, not as a standardized curriculum. The recommendations are based on expert opinion and current practices of multiple quitlines, but are not considered to be exhaustive.

We strongly urge quitlines to review the recommendations, and review their own protocols and procedures for staff training and supervision in this area. As always, any changes should be made based on the needs, goals, and available resources for each quitline. The BHAF recommendations and quitline services to tobacco users with behavioral health conditions will be reviewed in a webinar this coming year. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Tamatha Thomas-Haase at NAQC or Chad Morris, at chad.morris@ucdenver.eduor 303-724-3709.

Thank you for your continuing efforts to help smokers quit.

All the best,

Linda A. Bailey, JD, MHS
President and CEO

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