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Two-thirds of adults who have experienced problems with gambling have never spoken to anyone about it, according to UK harm prevention charity GambleAware.

GambleAware released a statement today (21 November) calling for an end to stigma around gambling-related harm in order to encourage those suffering to open up about the issue.

Around 64% of adults experiencing problem gambling have never spoken about it to anyone, GambleAware said, with 39% of those people attributing their silence to a pervasive stigma around gambling harms.

The vast majority (76%) of those who have spoken about it, however, reported feeling better after talking to someone, GambleAware added.

Anti-stigma campaign

The charity is now launching the next phase of its anti-stigma campaign which first launched in April this year.

The campaign calls for an end to the stigma surrounding problem gambling and encourages those suffering to speak out.

It has been developed in close collaboration with the gambling harms lived experience community, GambleAware said, and is supported by a range of expert and influential voices.

Those include former Love Island contestant Scott Thomas, who previously experienced gambling harms, and football commentator Clive Tyldesley.

“Harmful gambling really can affect anyone and very often those suffering show no outward signs of their issues,” Tyldesley said. 

“It’s a silent, invisible problem because too often the gamblers disappear into their own feelings of embarrassment and guilt. Getting them to open up and talk is half the battle to beating the problem, either with people close to them or via the professional support the GambleAware website offers.”

The campaign is also backed by a range of partners including the Ministry of Defence and mental health charity CALM, as well as broadcasters which have donated more than £1m worth of free advertising inventory to GambleAware.

The campaign features “impactful media activity across multiple channels, including specifically targeting communities experiencing a disproportionate burden of gambling harm and stigmatisation, such as people from minority ethnic backgrounds.”

Lived experience

The campaign is informed and backed by multiple individuals with lived experience of gambling harm.

Former Love Island contestant Thomas said: “It’s an incredibly scary thing to first tell someone that you’ve got a gambling problem. Many people assume it’s just because you can’t handle your money, but it needs to be viewed as seriously as any other mental health condition. 

“I was terrified when I first opened up about the problems I had been having but, once I did, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I no longer had to hide.”

Elissa Hubbard, who also has lived experience of gambling harm, added: “Every day was full of anxiety – trying to keep my gambling a secret, while finding opportunities to do it more. 

“People think you can ‘just stop’, but you can’t… it’s so easy to be dismissed, and I didn’t want anyone to think bad of me. Finding help changed everything. I discovered that by keeping quiet, it helps no one, and when you start to talk about it, people start to understand you.”

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