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GambleAware has launched a national public health campaign in the UK to challenge perceptions of gambling harm and encourage conversation around the topic.

New research undertaken by the charity showed that 75% of people experiencing problems with gambling feel they can’t talk about it with their loved ones due to the stigma surrounding the topic.

The research also suggested that while some 23% of people think they know someone who has experienced problems with their gambling, 61% of people are put off talking about it due to concerns around stigma.

A new campaign co-created alongside people with lived experience of gambling harms therefore aims to reduce the stigma associated with the subject, by seeking to change societal perceptions and understanding of it.

“Gambling harms are hidden and complex in nature,” said GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond.

GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond: “Gambling harms can affect anyone, which is why it is so important that we break down the stigma associated with it and encourage people to come forward and talk.”

“For many people who experience gambling harm, feelings of shame and embarrassment can often mean they struggle to talk about the issue with loved ones. 

“Gambling harms can affect anyone, which is why it is so important that we break down the stigma associated with it and encourage people to come forward and talk about gambling harm. It’s about time we put an end to stigma and opened up the conversation about gambling.”

Dr Dame Clare Gerada, president of the Royal College of GPs, added that the campaign represents an important step in encouraging people to open up the conversation around gambling harm, in order to raise awareness of the tools and advice available to help those experiencing harm.

General practitioner Dr Ellie Cannon added: “As a GP, I’ve worked with patients who are seeking support for gambling harms, so I understand how they can manifest for an individual in incredibly challenging ways, not dissimilar from other conditions such as alcohol or drug misuse. 

Dr Ellie Cannon: “As a GP, I’ve worked with patients who are seeking support for gambling harms, so I understand how they can manifest for an individual in incredibly challenging ways, not dissimilar from other conditions such as alcohol or drug misuse.”

“With stigma preventing so many vulnerable people from seeking support, it is time for society to challenge its outdated attitude towards gambling harms and those who experience them.”

As part of the campaign, GambleAware has partnered with TV and radio presenter Tyler West, whose brother experienced gambling harms for several years.

West hosts a daily radio show on the UK’s KISS FM, and has hosted TV programmes for the BBC and MTV. In 2022, West became a contestant on the highly popular Strictly Come Dancing.

He has also previously produced a documentary on the subject of mental health for MTV.

As part of the campaign, West has met with several others impacted by gambling harm to find out more about the stigma surrounding the issue, producing a film exploring their lived experience alongside stigma expert Dr Joanne Lloyd, an associate professor from Wolverhampton University.

TV and radio presenter Tyler West: “After experiencing the impact gambling harms can have on someone I can see how important it is for people to feel comfortable to speak up and ask for help.”

West commented: “Meeting others who have been impacted by gambling harms, like my brother was, has really opened my eyes to the stigma attached to an issue that is very close to my heart and how common it is.

“We need to do something about this. After experiencing the impact gambling harms can have on someone I can see how important it is for people to feel comfortable to speak up and ask for help if they’re struggling. It’s vital that we all do more to change the dialogue around gambling and address how society sees people who experience gambling harms.”

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of independent legal organisation Citizens Advice, also pointed out that gambling harms disproportionately affect those on lower incomes or living in more deprived communities.

Earlier this month, GambleAware launched a newly commissioned National Gambling Support Network, aimed at providing additional support to those experiencing gambling harms.

The network is made up of a group of treatment providers across the third sector and is focused specifically on early intervention via a regional-first approach.

Part of the service includes improved referral routes for those experiencing gambling harm, allowing local providers to provide the best treatment services to those in need.

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