Gamblers at-risk and their help-seeking behaviour

Abstract

This study investigated the help-seeking behaviour of gamblers in relation to their awareness and use of professional, non-professional and self-help for gambling-related problems, and associated motivators and barriers. Surveys and interviews were conducted with several samples of gamblers at different stages of change in their decision-making about seeking help for gambling problems. Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse {(CALD)} respondents were also included to examine cultural dimensions of help- seeking behaviour. The study found that there is a remarkably low awareness of professional sources of gambling help; and a low willingness to use these sources before experiencing a severe financial crisis. Players prefer self-help strategies initially to avoid the shame and embarrassment of other treatments, and these self-help strategies are sometimes enough for success. Many of these strategies are financial, such as setting a budget and leaving credit and debit cards at home. Thus, this research suggests that much more work (and research) should be directed at the fat-end of the tail of gambling problems, rather than focusing only on players with severe gambling problems. For people who are already experiencing problems, General Practitioners {(GPs)} are often a popular first point of contact for professional help, although clients often only admit to a co-morbid condition such as depression. In short, therefore, the research suggests that a different policy focus should be directed to at risk gamblers and problem gamblers, with the former focusing on financial self-help resources and the latter focusing on facilitating access at preferred contact points such as {GPs.}

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