Details from the Scottish Gambling Education Network meeting on 25 May

June 21, 2023

Our second network webinar of 2023 was on 25 May, and focused on ‘Gambling and Mental Health.’

Speakers highlighted research around the impact of gambling on mental health on both people experiencing harm from their own gambling and those close to them. Speakers also shared the lived experience of difficulties accessing mental health support services which are often over capacity.

Elizabeth Killick (Tackling Gambling Stigma – TGS)

Liz shared findings from TGS’s interviews with people with lived experience of gambling harm. Participants report experiencing a range of impacts on their mental health, including:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Distress
  • Stigma and shame
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Gambling becoming a way of self-punishment
  • Contributing to other addictions
  • Impact on social life
  • Suicidality

Liz also highlighted that gambling can become a source of trauma, and that the impact can continue even once someone has stopped gambling. Interestingly, they found that affected others (people affected by the gambling of someone close to them) experience many of the same harms as the person who gambles, but that it was from a different perspective.

Nadine Ashworth (Thrivin’ Together)

Nadine shared insights from Thrivin’ Together’s recovery and support work with women who have experienced gambling harm. She warned that many support services are stretched – particularly those providing support around mental health. People using the service report that you often need to be at crisis point to access support, rather than accessing support to prevent crisis.

Nadine also echoed Liz’s insight that harms often continue even after gambling cessation, as accumulated harms and trauma can catch up with you, such as:

  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Limited recovery capital due to previous harm (e.g. depleted finances, bankruptcy, unemployment, broken relationships)

Steve Watts (GamFam)

Steve shared his experience of harm from his son’s gambling. He emphasised that both as a parent and an educator, he never received any information about risks around gambling – it was treated very differently to other harmful products such as tobacco and alcohol.

He also demonstrated some of the resources GamFam have used to inform their work in partnership with Police Scotland and Suffolk Mind, including resources around emotional needs.

Jules Goodlet-Rowley (Tobacco and Alcohol Unit, Scottish Government)

Jules introduced herself and her work in her new remit on the Tobacco and Alcohol Unit for Scottish Government, which also includes gambling. She flagged that she is currently working in partnership with Public Health Scotland around gambling, and shared a link to the most recent Scottish Health Survey which included questions around gambling.

SGEN image