Gambling Harm Awareness Week
The theme for this year's Gambling Harm Awareness Week is ‘Could gambling be affecting your wellbeing?’
Turning Point talks to Dr Ali Cheetham about the importance of reducing stigma around gambling, and self-help strategies that can be used to help people with their gambling behaviours.
‘Could gambling be affecting your wellbeing?’
Gambling Harm Awareness Week is a time for people to reflect on how gambling can harm people in a multitude of ways. It can cause the breakdown of relationships, reduce self-esteem, impact mental health, and cause significant financial distress.
This year's theme for Gambling Harm Awareness Week is ‘Could gambling be affecting your wellbeing?’ This question is posed to encourage people to reflect on the negative effects of gambling, and encourage them to seek help.
Furthermore, by starting a conversation about the harms of gambling it helps reduce the stigma around the practice.
According to Turning Point Research Officer, Dr Ali Cheetham, stigma plays a major role in preventing people from seeking help in the first place for harms caused by gambling.
“It is important to reduce the stigma associated with experiencing gambling problems, because it encourages more people to seek out help.”
Self-help strategies for gambling
In 2015, Dr Cheetham and a team of researchers led the Gambling Self Help study, which aimed to develop a comprehensive list of self-help strategies and actions people use to control or manage their gambling and determine the uptake and helpfulness of these within an Australian context.
“Self-help is the most widely used type of help, however previous studies had typically examined a relatively small set of strategies, largely drawn from people in recovery.”
In their two-phase study, Dr Cheetham and the team found a broad range of strategies were used, including but not limited to; becoming more informed about gambling, completing self-assessments, setting limits, better social support, better financial planning, and seeking alternative activities.
“We also found people used a combination of multiple strategies. For example, limiting access to cash might be combined with engaging in alternative activities to limit time spent in venues and increase social connection.
Holding casinos and online betting agencies accountable
While opening up the conversation about gambling and finding self help strategies that work for individuals are two ways to reduce gambling harm, it is also important to hold casinos and online betting agencies accountable for their actions.
Recently, governments, both state and federal, have been taking more action to reduce gambling harm.
At the start of this Gambling Harm Awareness Week the ACT Labor Party signed off on a campaign to end gambling advertisements on television. Last month the Federal Government launched an inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on people with gambling problems.