To mark the beginning of Gambling Harm Awareness Week (16–22 October), Victorians are being encouraged to reach out and offer help and hope to those in our community who may be struggling with a gambling issue.
‘People are often reluctant to raise their concerns with someone they suspect is experiencing negative consequences from gambling because it can make them feel uncomfortable – but it’s important that we do,’ Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation CEO Shane Lucas said today.
‘Under the ongoing theme of Talk.Share.Support., the focus of this year’s Gambling Harm Awareness Week is on how to start a conversation with someone whose health and wellbeing are at risk of being negatively affected by gambling.’
Professionals, such as psychologists and therapeutic counsellors, as well as people with lived experience of gambling harm, agree that open conversations help to break down gambling harm-related stigma, foster understanding, offer hope of recovery and make people feel that it’s okay to ask for help. They suggest:
- setting aside time to chat in a quiet, comfortable place where others won’t overhear your conversation
- approaching the issue with care and sensitivity
- being patient – if the person is not ready to talk, let it go and try again another time; reassure them that you are available to talk if/when they are ready; or suggest they speak to other friends/family/professionals if they would prefer
- encouraging the person to speak freely – listen without judging or interrupting; maintain open, positive body language; and ask open-ended questions
- offering support and guidance – check out available help resources and services and ask them how they would like you to support them
- checking in regularly to see how they’re going and offer further support.
‘If you’re concerned that someone in your life – a family member, friend or colleague – could be experiencing harm from gambling, starting a conversation with them shows that you care and may change their life for the better,’ Mr Lucas said.
Early signs that someone is experiencing, or is at risk of, gambling harm can include stress, irritability, difficulty sleeping, having less time or money to spend on recreation with family or friends, and drinking or smoking more than usual.
Signs of severe gambling harm can include relationship conflict, reduced work or study performance, financial difficulties, anger, and feelings of shame and hopelessness.
For more information and a range of resources, including videos of tips from people with lived experience of harm and a new podcast – Let’s talk gambling – visit gamblershelp.com.au.
Anyone negatively affected by their own or someone else’s gambling can call Gambler’s Help 24/7 on 1800 858 858 for free and confidential support, advice and referral.
Fiona Skivington 0428 248 931