Treatment pathway project

Gambling disorder is highly correlated with suicide. Yet unlike for other common mental health conditions, pathways that enable people to get the right treatment and support for gambling disorder are not well-defined.

of those who need it able to access treatment

The National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms highlights the discrepancy between the potential need and the proportion of people able to access treatment (estimated to be only 2 per cent).

This is linked to a lack of understanding of gambling addiction within wider health and social services, the lack of availability of treatment and support services as well as underdeveloped referral routes into these services.

Our experience

Gambling with Lives has heard how this is reflected in people’s experiences of finding and getting help. People experiencing gambling harms have told us they faced low awareness of gambling disorder in mainstream services. They often felt expected to identify their condition and navigate the treatment system themselves, without key information and advice.

While some have found positive care and support, often the options available, and their quality and effectiveness, were not clear. Many found that treatment was too short term and unable to specifically address gambling disorder. People encountered judgement and lack of understanding that contributed to self-blame and further harm to mental health.

“People harmed by gambling should be at the forefront of designing care and treatment for gambling disorder. Speedy, appropriate help is the first line of suicide prevention.”

Liz Ritchie

This has led Gambling with Lives to bring together experts by experience and other partners with the aim to show how the system of treatment and support can be more accessible, relevant and effective for those who need it.

A joined-up pathway

In 2021 we published a design detailing what a joined-up pathway for gambling disorder could look like (available for download at the bottom of the page). In 2022 we are commencing the next phase of work, which will design a set of educational materials for health and social care system stakeholders including GPs, Citizens Advice Bureaus, mental health providers, and housing providers to inform them of the risks of gambling, who to refer to and provide access to the most appropriate screening tools.

This project will also develop information and awareness-raising materials for gamblers and their families which will be made widely available in Manchester.

A key part of the project is that it acknowledges wide-ranging determinants of gambling harm – including dangerous gambling industry products and practices – rather than focusing responsibility on individuals. It also seeks to ensure frontline professionals across services are aware of gambling harm and how to effectively treat it.

Insights from this process are intended to be used to raise the standard of the system of gambling treatment and care nationally.

For more information or to make a contribution to the project please contact us.