The perceived stigma that problem gambling is a ‘male issue’ has been considered a key factor in the reluctance to access support services for female gamblers, a GamCare report has found.
The report, produced by GamCare’s Women’s Programme, aims to deliver outreach, education and awareness on the subject.
The Women’s Programme, according to the support and treatment provider, aims to use the education and skill building initiatives in addition to the experience of thousands of intermediaries ‘who can go on to better identify women who need support for gambling related harms’.
Raising concerns over ‘worrying trends amongst women who are being harmed by gambling’, the study found that those identifying as female reported feeling ‘high levels of shame and stigma’ because of societal perceptions that gambling is a ‘male’ activity ‘in which women should not, or do not, take part’.
GamCare further noted that certain respondents relayed the ‘dangerous assumptions’ that gambling could not be damaging to themselves or their families as they were not the financial owners of their households – a dangerous stigma for those that need to seek treatment.
Respondents reported that societal expectations of women, such as expectations to be ‘good mothers’ and/or homemakers still need to be tackled to break down perceived stigmas.
Anna Hemmings, Chief Executive of GamCare, commented: “The issues that women are facing are often hidden from support services. Our Women’s Programme has told us that we need to remove barriers for women to access help with gambling related harm, but we also need to ensure that those providing that support are better equipped to help them.
“We must get to grips with the unnecessary shame and stigma women feel around asking for help. Gambling is not just a male activity, and it can affect women in significant, potentially life-changing ways.
“We have already achieved a lot in the first year of this programme, and I’m looking forward to the second year of the programme where we will be spreading the learning to improve support for women.”
Other findings from the survey also revealed that women who gamble reported significant financial losses, with many reported in the tens of thousands, as well as a key issue pinpointed being that of a detrimental impact to mental health.
Building on its commitment to support problem gamblers, GamCare reaffirmed its plan to strengthen referral pathways into support and treatment for women affected by gambling, as well as continuing to gather lived experience from women across the UK and broadening its evidence-base for treatment that works.
During 2020, GamCare has focused on raising awareness of gambling harms within UK communities, having led projects on breaking down barriers to treatment for BAME communities and improving harm prevention skills within workplace environments.