Gamblers seek help only when it comes to the crunch


Sydney : Gamblers are motivated to seek help only in a crisis involving financial loss or hardship, often accompanied by psychological distress, according to a two-year research project.

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The study, which examined 300 people and was conducted by Maria Bellringer of Auckland University of Technology (AUT) New Zealand, also found that the main barriers to seeking help were feelings of pride, shame and problem denial, according to lead researcher Maria Bellringer.

A secondary group of barriers included lack of knowledge of what specialist services were available; lack of understanding of the treatment process; and in some cases, wariness about seeking any kind of professional help because of a previous negative experience, according to an AUT release.

“We found that people are not accessing help until they face a crisis – a point which is too far down the line and an unnecessary delay,” said Bellringer. “It shows we need to be encouraging gamblers to go for help earlier in their journey.

“There are many people out there still suffering who haven’t yet reached a traumatic or critical point or are ‘flying under the radar’ of raising major concerns.

“The study suggests we need to increase awareness of what services are available to problem gamblers and make early stage help services more accessible. It also suggests we need to raise awareness amongst family, friends and non-specialist health professionals so they can encourage people to seek help earlier, before a crisis point.”

AUT’s dean of faculty of health and environmental sciences, Max Abbott, said confirming that feelings of pride, shame and problem denial are the main barriers means they can now be focussed on and addressed.