Antonella Santostefano obtained her BA in Italian and Special Fields: Gender Studies and a minor in Geography/Environmental Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013. She is currently the project coordinator for BREATHE (Bringing Resilience and Engaging Awareness about Tobacco Habits to Everyone), a peer-led smoking cessation intervention for the severely mentally ill led by Dr. Elizabeth Bromley. Ms. Santostefano also provides research support around bullying and LGBTQ students for the Treatment and Services Adaptation Center for Resiliency, Hope, and Wellness in Schools with Dr. Sheryl Kataoka. In addition, she also provides support for the CBITS Project, a school-based, group intervention aimed at relieving symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and general anxiety among children exposed to trauma. Ms. Santostefano’s primary research interest is how race, class, and gender intersect with the practices and policies in the mental health field.
The Peer-Led Smoking Cessation project has pursued a partnered approach to intervention development that explored and reported on attitudes that present barriers to smoking cessation in mental health clinics as well as preferred strategies for cessation. Our consumer task force met on a weekly basis for over a year to develop and refine a peer led intervention for smoking cessation for peers with severe mental illnesses. They have shared their experiences with smoking and smoking cessation and provided us with feedback on potential interventions and methods to support peers who are trying to quit smoking. They also discussed how these interventions should be adapted to fit within their unique setting and with their unique populations.