Martin’s story is both moving and hopeful. If you go no further on this site than watching the video, you will have learned something very important that no figures or data can ever communicate. Martin has had to overcome a great deal of stigma to talk openly, bravely and honestly.
Gambling can often cause intense harm to individuals, those around them and communities. The scale of the harms is alarming, yet the issue remains largely hidden. Many thousands of people are struggling alone, often with nowhere to turn. Treatment and support services are inadequate and those that exist mainly depend upon the hard work of charities and other Third Sector organisations. Martin is a beacon of hope like the very many others who overcame their intense wounds with very little support.
Martin, though, represents a growing and dynamic network of individuals here and across the world who campaign for gambling harms to receive the urgent attention needed and to be seen as a public health issue. They are complemented by some academic reasearchers, politicians, health professionals, numerous charities and journalists who seek to highlight the issue. You’ll find on this site much more information about gambling harms, and discover how you can become involved in addressing them.
If you have, or think you may have, a problem with gambling, check out available sources of help. If you’re affected by someone else’s gambling, you’ll also find help here. You may be feeling isolated, ashamed, depressed or worse but the relief from finding someone to open up with is tremendous.
This section presents the nature of harms to individuals and communities. The prevalence of harms is discussed. Different sections of the population – such as young people – suffer greater harms. Other sections of the population such as women and those from minority ethnicities face additional problems and stigma.
MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION
The word ADDICT itself is stigmatising. In this important section we look at the nature of addiction and how it has to be seen primarily as a mental health disorder. Why are ‘mental health services’ usually separate from ‘addiction services’?
STIGMA AND LANGUAGE
People with mental health problems may suffer a great deal more distress because of the attitudes in society. Those with addiction face even greater stigmatisation. We look here at what stigma is, how it is being challenged and how an individual can cope with it.
THE BIG ISSUES
The UK government is conducting an inquiry towards a new Gambling Act more fit for purpose in the digital age. Here, we look at the main debates and often fierce arguments around the central issues. We look at the arguments froom industry, lawmakers, regulators, researchers. and many more.
COMMUNITY ACTION: Campaigning
In this section we look at the work of COPE based in Drumchapel, Scotland. This is an example of the co-production of local community initiatives which result in practical, ground-level action. We also provide a campaigning toolkit.
GAMBLING in SCOTLAND
Find out here how many initiatives from individuals through to large national organisations are working together to implement actions and shape policies which will reduce gambling harms.
Many individuals who have suffered gambling damages have become campaigners, started charities and other organisations and become part of a vibrant and growing network. In this section we look at some examples. Overall, the actions and energies of individuals on a small scale are having a big impact on the national scale.
Almost 2% of 11 – 16 year olds are classed as ‘problem gamblers’, and a further 2.7% are ‘at risk’. Here, we look into this alarming situation and some of the ways proposed to prevent the harms and tackle existing damage. This section focuses on education in Scotland.
HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Awareness of gambling harm is often low or lacking among doctors, nurses and psychiatrists, social care and support providers We believe that there is a need to raise awareness and encourage integrated pathways towards treatment and support.
Anybody can develop gambling problems but there are populations who suffer multiple vulnerabilities. Gambling locations cluster in areas of poverty and multiple disadvantage. We look here at the geographies of gambling damage.
THE CREATIVE SPARK
The arts are a powerful way to raise awareness and challenge stigma.
From writing to dancing, theatre to podcasting, painting to singing, the arts are also a powerful way to support recovery and discovery.
Basic Psychology relating to gambling. Knowing a little of this may help you see the ways we can be manipulated to act irrationally.
Mental Health and Addiction. Some more on the illness of addiction, drawing attention to its neglected status in service provision especially for gambling distress.
Addiction by Design? A brief overview of how the environment and factors such as device design play a neglected part in understanding gambling harms.
For Frontline Staff. Advice, awareness raising and examples of practices such as screening.
The Harms that People Suffer. A look at how individuals and communities can be harmed by gambling.
The Creative Spark. How the arts support recovery, raise awareness and challenge stigma.
Language usage on this site.
This section looks at how all of us can challenge and reduce stigma. We look at some examples of this. Unfortunately, stigmatisation of mental health sufferers continues but there have been great reductions in some areas thanks to many efforts to challenge stigma. With ‘addiction’, though, stigma tends to be more intense. Many argue, as we do on this site, that the word ‘addict’ is itself stigmatising. With gambling, there is a growing but fairly recent series of challenges to stigma.
You’ll find here also a few suggestions for coping with the pain associated with stigma.
Voices of Experience
Every aspect of health and wellbeing is subject to data-crunching, statistics, specialist medical and other academic papers. This is important. But not only can it exclude individuals from taking part, it very often ignores the views and insights of those who are Experts by Experience. Every person’s experience of mental distress is different, unique, and not something that can be captured by one-size-fits-all categories and diagnoses.
In this section, we’ll meet some people with their own stories, their own unique experience.
There is nothing more important than you as an individual. If you are affected by gambling please do check our SUPPORT section here. Accepting that you need and would welcome help is a crucial step in overcoming distress. Every person is different. Don’t let words or phrases such as ‘addict’ or ‘pathological gambler’ define you. You may have a problem but you are not a problem. This goes equally for anybody who is affected by someone’s gambling behaviour. There are many thousands who have been through something like what you are facing. Many of them have dedicated themselves to sharing their experiences and messages of hope. Some offer one-to-one chats by text or phone. With five million people in the UK affected you’re facing a very human situation that has arisen not because there is something weak or bad about you. You are not to blame in any way. You suffer from mental health distress which, like for instance depression and anxiety, can be addressed by many support services. Gambling compulsion is like others such as alcohol or drugs (and you may have problems with these too). It can feel like a demon that robs you of the power to choose, takes away your sense of responsibility. You may recognise that crazy inner conversation: I hate doing this, why do I keep doing it? But there remains a spark of personal power, the power to seek help. Just doing this will be a big relief, and you’ll find over the weeks and months, possibly years, that your life improves hugely. One day you may become the person able to offer support to others.
Join us on Facebook and Twitter
Whether you’re seeking advice and support for your own or somebody else’s gambling, or whether you’re someone whose work involves gambling harms, join us on social media. Twitter especially will introduce you to a network of fantastic people discusing their experiences, the organisations they’ve set up, health and social care workers, journalists, politicians and academics. Everyone comes from a different place but there is one thing we all have in common: working to support others and reduce gambling harms.