New research has revealed that three quarters (75%) of those experiencing problems with gambling, feel they can’t talk to loved ones about it, with stigma being the biggest barrier preventing people from opening up.
The data, from the charity GambleAware, suggests that in addition to those feeling they can’t talk to family and friends, a quarter of adults (23%) state they think they know someone who has experienced problems with gambling. Data also shows how three in five (61%) are put off speaking to those experiencing gambling harms about it due to concerns around stigma.
Gambling harms – or the negative consequences of gambling – are a complex public health issue. To address this, GambleAware has launched a major new public health campaign to reduce stigma associated with gambling harms by seeking to change societal perceptions and understanding of the issue. The campaign has been co-created with people with lived experience of gambling harms, putting their experiences at the heart of the campaign.
Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware, said: “Gambling harms are hidden and complex in nature. 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.”
With data highlighting the role stigma plays, GambleAware commissioned further research into attitudes and perceptions surrounding gambling harms. Results showed over three in five (62%) agree people negatively judge those experiencing gambling harms, whilst more than half (56%) agree that it is important to challenge the stigma around gambling harms.
Beth Thomas, Head of Service for Gambling Harms at Adferiad Recovery, said: “The stigma around gambling is one of the main barriers to people reaching out and seeking support.
“The fear of being labelled discourages people from accessing the support they need to tackle their addiction.
“Addiction does not define a person, we are all only human and we all have the right to live in a society where our worth isn’t measured by the prejudice of others.
“We launched our ‘Only Human’ Campaign last year, with our key aims to
• Tackle the stigma associated with addiction
• To give a voice to those with lived experience of addiction
• To celebrate and promote recovery
“It is so important that we address the stigma and open up the conversation around gambling to reduce harm and encourage more people to seek help.
“Reducing gambling harms requires a coordinated whole system approach, so as key partner of the National gambling support network we fully support Gamble Aware’s Stigma campaign and hope to make a difference together.”
Dr Dame Clare Gerada, President, Royal College of GPs 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. This campaign is an important step to encourage people and those in the sector to open up the conversation and signpost towards the lifesaving tools and advice that are available.”
Dr Ellie Cannon said: “As a GP, I’ve worked with patients who are seeking support for gambling harms, so I understand how they can manifest for an individual in incredibly challenging ways, not dissimilar from other conditions such as alcohol or drug misuse. 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”.
In a bid to open up the conversation around gambling harms, GambleAware has partnered with TV and radio presenter, Tyler West, whose brother experienced gambling harms for several years which impacted his relationships with loved ones. West met with a number of other people who have been impacted by gambling harms to find out more about the impact that stigma has on those who experience harm, and how they eventually opened up about it.
The film features Stacey Goodwin and Martin Paterson who shared their first-hand experiences, alongside stigma expert, Associate Professor from Wolverhampton University, Dr Joanne Lloyd.
Tyler West said: “Meeting others who have been impacted by gambling harms, like my brother was, has really opened my eyes to the stigma attached to an issue that is very close to my heart and how common it is. We need to do something about this.
After experiencing the impact gambling harms can have on someone I can see how important it is for people to feel comfortable to speak up and ask for help if they’re struggling. It’s vital that we all do more to change the dialogue around gambling and address how society sees people who experience gambling harms.”
Tackling the stigma associated with gambling harms requires a whole system approach, working in partnership with others. As part of the campaign GambleAware is also bringing together a coalition of trusted organisations from the private, third and public sector who share a common purpose to prevent gambling harm.
Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said: “While gambling harms can affect anyone, people on lower incomes and people living in more deprived communities are disproportionately at risk. That’s why we’re working with GambleAware to help reduce the stigma of gambling and support people and communities with the greatest need.”
If you’re worried about how gambling makes you feel, help is available. For free and confidential advice, tools and support, search GambleAware or contact the National Gambling Helpline, available 24/7, on 0808 8020 133. Contact Adferiad here: 01792 816 600 (Monday-Friday 8am–5pm) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org