Gordon Moody Association: Seeking a positive response to gambling harm

In part two of a series on gambling harm, Paul Dent (pictured) – Gambling Therapy Manager at Gordon Moody Association (GMA) – takes a look at why certain groups within society may be more reluctant to reach out for help in tackling their problem gambling habits and how GMA will be supporting women, LGBT and the BAME communities.

There is a growing consensus that gambling harm is a major public health issue and a growing realisation of an urgent need to tackle the many factors that lead to gambling harm.

Some progress is being made. Yet more is required to support those most in need and who traditionally have been overlooked, and a coherent approach to tackle this is needed from everyone involved in delivery, regulation, education and treatment.

Gambling harm can be the result of many factors including health-related issues, social harm on individuals, financial hardship, families, and communities, with a 2016 study estimating that gambling harm costs £1.2 billion per year in the UK.

A number of other studies have also suggested that the risk is not just problem gamblers, but it is also low and moderate risk gamblers who are at risk. One study in 2017 showed that due to their much greater numbers, the burden of gambling related harm is 50% among low-risk and 34% among moderate-risk gamblers.

A worrying trend that GambleAware’s ‘Treatment Needs and Gap Analysis in Great Britain’ identified was that there appears to be a lack of awareness or reluctance to admit problematic behaviour, which was shown to be a particularly common barrier to seeking treatment.

The reluctance to reach out for treatment was largely due to the ‘stigma’ associated with gambling addiction, which was particularly prominent among women, the BAME community and individuals from a lower socioeconomic background.

Those who also identified as ‘affected others’ from such backgrounds were similarly most affected, with a significant number reporting experiencing gambling harm themselves.

What did become apparent in the report, however, was that gamblers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, women, younger people and people from BAME communities indicated that nothing would motivate them to seek help. These reports show the priority groups we need to target when designing support groups.

Across Gamcare, GambleAware and Gambling Therapy, 30% of helpline calls came from women with 59% seeking help for another person and 41% seeking help themselves.

This equates to 9,000 women. Last year saw an additional 100,000 women accessing the Gambling Therapy website – taking the annual total to more than one 1 million. Meanwhile, 2,000 women accessed treatment for gambling disorder in the UK last year. However, this could be as little as one per cent of those requiring treatment.

Within the Gordon Moody Association (GMA), the women’s retreat and counselling programme received 160 applications for the 36 places available last year. Something we’ve found is that helplines can be a good facilitator to accessing support and further treatment.

Those who gamble are particularly likely to mention the need for helplines to ‘lever’ and facilitate further support, a finding particularly highlighted by gamblers among BAME communities. This will facilitate ease of service in addition to convenience, confidentiality and helping individuals to manage stigma and shame.

There is a significant potential role for helplines to act as a ‘safety net’ to engage clients and to facilitate more proactive aftercare. However, more is needed and GMA intends to create an innovative evidence-based and service-user led centre for women in 2021.

Women are vastly under-represented in gambling specific treatment or as the largest section of affected others. The residential treatment programme will be for those severely affected by gambling disorders, as well as providing respite, counselling and support for families of gamblers.

The key to this project’s success will be in showing an evidence-based need for the service.
We know there is a growing number of women, LGBT and Individuals from BAME requiring treatment with gambling associated issues, but the true number is unknown.

We have based our model around the evidence for the need for treatment from our own female service users, and statistics from the National Gambling Helpline, showing the tangible and growing need among women gamblers and the even greater need to provide support for women affected by another’s gambling.

Using our knowledge of running women’s programmes while engaging with service users, and those with lived experience, GMA will devise an effective programme that recognises the wider issues surrounding gambling disorder in women. The programme will be inclusive of LGBT and BAME communities as well as other ethnic and minority groups.

Our programme aims to make a positive impact on the various associated issues that can arise from disordered gambling such as loneliness, debt, relationships, employment, childcare, mental health issues, other addictions, domestic abuse, sexual violence and suicide.

Evidence on the treatment’s impact, gathered from service users and using traditional and innovative methods, and outputs from the service pilot will also be used to shape improvements to future programmes and to bridge any skill gaps through our centre of excellence.

Research and results will be shared within the sector and treatment providers to substantiate the demand for treatment in the UK as well as evidencing the most effective practices. We also want to use this programme to break down communication barriers and from the evaluation, show the real scale of need and how to address it.

Gordon Moody Association is listed as a treatment provider as part of the national strategy for reducing gambling harms and can receive funding directly from gambling operators.

We want to reach directly to the gambling industry to assist with the cost of this pilot. And would appeal to any interested and willing operators to help contribute funding towards the development and implementation of this innovative two-year programme for women affected by disordered gambling.

If you would like to get involved, please contact Rob Mabbett ([email protected]), Head of Growth at Gordon Moody.

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