Mental Health And Gambling Addiction



On this significant day I would like to speak about an arguably epidemic situation with problem gambling in current times in regard to its effect on mental health. Despite a rapidly worsening situation, there is comparatively little help for this problem in the UK. Our media and particularly sports are swamped with gambling advertising among such platitudes as ‘When the fun stops, stop’, insincerely backed by the gambling industry who maintain that they act responsibly in the face of much evidence to the contrary.


In my work, I see much tragedy daily, broken homes, splintered families and wrecked relationships, bankruptcies, isolation, high anxiety and depression and mental and physical illness. I also witness prison sentences and even suicide and it’s ideation, often attempted and occasionally unfortunately, completed.

For a little time, there has been no facility in my part of the country, Nottingham, or indeed the whole of the East Midlands of England to offer free assistance for gambling issues until recently this year. Currently, as a lone worker, I offer some of the only free regular counselling support to a population of approximately four million people.

I am employed in Nottingham City Centre by the registered charity, Aquarius Action Projects whose head office is based in Birmingham. The counselling service is a charitable one and completely free of charge and confidential. Already a busy service in Nottingham, the operation is hopeful of expansion in order to further look after our local communities and others more widely over the East Midlands and into Lincolnshire too.


Counselling can presently be offered in person in Nottingham city centre or by free telephone calls. Based on psychological principles and behavioural change, it’s a friendly and accessible service and one I’d particularly like people to be aware of.

The help is funded by the national charity, Gamcare whose website and free help line I link below. Gamcare have a partner agency network throughout England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. The help and support is out there and readily accessible.

If you’d like help with your problem, please call Aquarius on 0300 456 4293 or email on
Alternatively, you can contact Gamcare, our funder’s Helpline or Chatline on the link below to gain immediate help and/or be referred across the UK:

‘The phrase ‘raising awareness’ sometimes feels a little overused in these days but I’d be very happy if my friends – and friends I’ve yet to meet – would be willing to share this information and help others,

Thank you.


6 Replies to “Mental Health And Gambling Addiction”

  1. Thanks Jane. There’s a lot of truth in what you say, online gambling makes the activity so much more accessible, that’s clear. Especially perhaps in the case of some women who might previously have shunned the traditionally male bastions such as betting shops. Having said that, there is a huge problem too with Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in the betting shops which are providing around 50% of the industry’s profits.

  2. Hello Stuart, I was unaware of the Fixed Odds Terminals in the betting shops. My clients have been reaching out for help with online gambling, like Bingo and Casinos. What this feels like is a desperate search for ‘hope’. Fixes for the drudgery felt in everyday life. It’s like gambling is being dressed up as an ‘OK’ thing to do, an oasis in the desert of life, where people are so desperate that they are drinking the sand. It’s all about money and profits, of course and playing into people’s need to fill the holes they feel inside themselves.

  3. Hi Jane, I think that’s a pretty fair estimation of why many gamble. I see a few familiar themes and one of them is most definitely escapism of some sort or other. Many want to know ‘why’ they gamble and the reasons can be numerous. It’s definitely (erroneously) seen as a short cut to greater wealth or possessions by some. Other common reasons are boredom/underoccupied people, chasing excitement and perpetuating the habit by chasing losses.

  4. To have a win at gambling is horrid, because then you keep going, Bookies are wealthy because of this. The patterns and ‘chasing’ of wins and losses set a pattern all of their own. Personal responsibility: it’s a toughie for some to grasp, because we surely do create our reality from our thoughts, words and actions. Self awareness is not an end goal, but an energy that runs through each day of our lives. Helping people to see they have options and learning their own personal ‘tools’ in handling life help. Gambling is an epidemic, dripping with shame and tucked away in silence.

  5. Yes, I think you’re exactly right. When do people stop – when they’re winning? No, they’re on a streak. When they’re losing? No, they try to win their losses back. Most likely when all the money is gone – and then not always. It’s a horrible ‘bubble’ to exist in, characterised by lies and deceit towards loved one and a spirally debt. There is a feeling of not having control. All these feelings are necessarily internalised and not shared, it’s incredibly stressful.

    Maybe like you my aim is to work with their positive traits, let them understand their personal motivation to stop and exercise techniques and strategies to do that.

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