Problem Gambling and Mental Health Posted On
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There is a strong connection between problem gambling and problems with mental health. Understanding this connection, identifying warning signs and knowing where to get help is vital to preventing problems and getting support.
Problem Gambling in NY
Nearly 668,000 New Yorkers have experienced a gambling problem in the past year. That is a lot of family, friends, and colleagues having trouble. Problems from gambling can include sleep problems, relationship problems with loved ones and struggles at work.
Each person struggling with problem gambling affects 6-10 of those closest to them. A study found that 9 out of 10 people affected by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress. This means that between the people struggling with problem gambling and the people closest to them, nearly 6.7 million New Yorkers are affected by problem gambling and may struggle with mental health issues because of it.
Problem Gambling and Mental Health
People who struggle with problem gambling are at a higher risk for struggling with other mental health disorders. 2 out of 3 gamblers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling problems. In fact, the majority of those struggling with problem gambling have a lifetime history of mental health problems. In addition to struggling with gambling they may be struggling with mental health problems such as:
- an anxiety disorder,
- a personality disorder,
- a mood disorder, such as depression, and
- suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide.
According to CEO Glenn Liebman of the Mental Health Association of New York State, “people need to understand the link between problem gambling and other mental illnesses, and the similarity between a gambling disorder and substance use disorders. This understanding is vital so that those impacted directly and indirectly by problem gambling can appreciate the necessity of treatment. In most cases, it’s unrealistic to believe that someone suffering from these disorders can recover without help”, said Liebman. “Maintaining this belief can have devastating consequences on those who suffer and their families, including financial ruin and suicide.”
Warning Signs of Problem Gambling
Any problem caused by gambling can be a warning sign of problem gambling. This is because problem gambling refers to problems in someone’s life that are due to gambling behaviors. There are many warning signs of problem gambling. Some warning signs include:
- Feeling anxious or distressed when not gambling,
- Struggling to sleep well due to thoughts or worries about gambling,
- Lying to friends and family about how much time or money spent while gambling,
- Missing special family events and holidays to go gambling, and
- Having thoughts of suicide due to problems caused by gambling.
Since there are few outward signs specific to gambling, it’s important to learn as much about the warning signs of problem gambling as possible.
Help for Problem Gambling
There is help and hope, but people may feel hopeless if they don’t know what help is available. Here are two connections to resources for help.
- Learn as much as possible about problem gambling. Resources can be found at org. These resources include eBooks, videos, info-graphics and articles. There’s something for everyone!
- Find local help by reaching out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center. Anyone who calls will be met by a trained professional. This professional will offer a warm greeting, a listening ear, and a list of options for local support geared towards helping those affected by problem gambling.
We plan to help share resources during the month of May to raise awareness about Mental Health Awareness Month. To learn more, keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs, and posts on Facebook and Twitter.