Help-seeking by problem gamblers, friends and families: A focus on gender and cultural groups

Abstract

This project was commissioned to examine the issue of helpseeking by gamblers, friends and families in the ACT with a focus on cultural and gender issues. Research explored gender and cultural factors with a view to identifying barriers that may hinder specific groups from seeking or accessing appropriate help. Further issues of primary concern for this study are the way problem gambling impacts on the families and friends of problem gamblers in the ACT, and where those people try to find help in such circumstances. It provides an understanding of the issues from the perspectives of these groups, eg the nature of problem gambling and the way people respond to it. The findings are a first step towards a more systematic understanding of the complexity of gambling problems in the ACT community and thus can inform recommendations for strategies to address the issues in a more practical and effective manner. In summary, the study found that gambling support services in the ACT do not meet the needs of people seeking help for their gambling problems. Moreover, the particular needs of cultural groups, and gender-specific needs of men and women are not being met. Before seeking professional help gamblers and family members utilise creative ways to help and support themselves, often with some success. People primarily turn to families and friends, to group support or to other generic community agencies for help. Differences in help seeking behaviour between men and women also have been identified which may be crucial factors in early interventions to address gamblingrelated problems and developing effective strategies. What has emerged from the research is considerable diversity in: the personal characteristics and experiences of people with gambling problems; the nature of gambling-related problems experienced; factors that led to the development of problem gambling; the types of problems that gamblers and families experienced; factors that prompted people to seek help; self-help strategies used by gamblers, families andfriends to address the problem; and barriers to seeking help are affected by personal circumstances as well as by more general shared perceptions that the support they need is not available.

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