Stigma around gambling prevents thousands from seeking help

Stigma around gambling is preventing thousands seeking help, with three-quarters of people who experience problems afraid to open up to loved ones. A survey by charity GambleAware found one in four people thought they knew someone who has struggled with gambling addiction. But 61 percent were put off talking to them about it due to concerns around stigma.

GambleAware’s chief executive, Zoë Osmond, said the harm caused by addiction was often hidden and complex.

She explained: “For many people who experience gambling harm, feelings of shame and embarrassment can often mean they struggle to talk about the issue with loved ones.

“Gambling harms can affect anyone, which is why it is so important that we break down the stigma associated with it and encourage people to come forward and talk about gambling harm.

“It’s about time we put an end to stigma and opened up the conversation about gambling.”

Estimates for the number of people affected by gambling harm vary widely.

The Government has previously put the figure at around 400,000, but analysis by GambleAware last year found up to 1.4 million may be suffering.

Further research by the charity found three in five people admitted to negatively judging those experiencing gambling harms.

It has launched a campaign to challenge the stereotypical image of a “problem gambler” and raise awareness of the health impacts.

These include mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, breakdown of relationships and financial difficulty.

The campaign is supported by Dr Dame Clare Gerada, president of the Royal College of GPs, who said: “Gambling harms are a serious public health issue and can affect anyone.

“They can manifest in various ways, including mental or physical health issues. General practitioners and the wider health sector can play a crucial role in addressing the issue of gambling harms, by supporting those who experience the harm directly.”

NHS GP Dr Ellie Cannon said: “With stigma preventing so many vulnerable people from seeking support, it is time for society to challenge its outdated attitude towards gambling harms and those who experience them.”

  • For free and confidential advice, tools and support, visit GambleAware or contact the National Gambling Helpline, available 24/7, on 0808 8020 133.

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