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Gambling harm minimisation and wellbeing specialists hoping to tackle the issue of female gambling addiction

EPIC Risk Management, along with partners Teen Tips Ltd and WHYSUP, have reacted with concern to new figures suggesting that as many as one million women in the UK may be experiencing gambling-related harm, but will use the news to re-double efforts to educate as many people as possible on the dangers associated with problem gambling.

The figure was released via GambleAware, which has concluded a study finding that the number of women in the country seeking treatment for gambling addiction has doubled in five years (1,134 in 2015-16 to 2,423 in 2020-21) and that it projects to an overall estimated figure of around a million at-risk women who are currently gambling at potentially dangerous levels.

Online casino and bingo sites are traditionally recognised as the go-to gambling outlets for female audiences, with the study also finding that the current winter months (December to March) see a 29% rise in participation across such portals; highlighting the need to pay particular attention to the issue when seasonal affective disorders can also be having a negative impact on personal wellbeing.

The three aforementioned partner organisations currently deliver a holistic gambling harm and wellbeing education programmes to students at around 200 secondary schools and colleges annually, highlighting to a new generation that the risk of addiction doesn’t discriminate based on gender, background or any other demographic factor ahead of them reaching the legal gambling age.

Each are also using their own contacts and skillset to deliver bespoke education and support to all-female groups, with EPIC delivering sessions to women’s professional sports teams across the world, Teen Tips delivering sessions to teachers, parents, carers, and pupils in schools across the country, and WHYSUP seeking to increase understanding around mental health and addiction in business, education and sports settings.

Patrick Foster, head of delivery at EPIC Risk Management, hopes that publicising the startling statistics that have come to light within the past week will help to bring the issue into wider public consciousness and help those in difficulties to consider their options.

“The figures we’ve seen this week are sadly not surprising because problem gambling remains a very hidden addiction, especially among women,” he explained.

“The stats show that 39% of women facing high levels of gambling harm feel embarrassed and stigmatised about their situation, and therefore don’t like to speak to others or seek help where it’s needed. It’s particularly worrying that academic studies tend to show that women in the most desperate of gambling-related circumstances are inclined to show more suicidal behaviour than men.

“This is why our combined education approach is hopefully crucial to ensuring that these figures change in the years to come. We explain that gambling addiction can target anybody at any time; there’s no set type of person who can become engrossed in this situation.

“By explaining the triggers, how to spot the signs of addiction and where to find help, we hope that we can take as much of the problem out of gambling as possible and we’re pleased to be working with like-minded partners to try and make that vision a reality and mean that startling surveys like this are showing signs of improvement when the follow-ups are released in years to come.”

Alicia Drummond, founder of Teen Tips Ltd, hopes that sharing these statistics will prompt the conversations necessary to increase awareness, decrease the stigma associated with women and gambling, and highlight the need for education in this area. She stated:

“It is vital that we educate parents, carers and young people about the risks associated with gambling so that they can make choices which will protect their mental health and wellbeing.”

Mark Murray, founder and director of WHYSUP, has expressed concern about the figures but is pleased that the issue has come into mainstream attention, explaining:

“As alarming as these figures are, we are glad this is being spoken about.

“Through our work across education and working in treatment, we have seen first hand an increase of women who are struggling with a gambling addiction. However, I believe there will be many more women out there that will be struggling and yet to come forward.

“It’s vitally important that we educate all youngsters, so they can spot signs in not only themselves but in their peers. And to continually push the message that there is help and support available for everyone. I believe our collaborative education programme does just that.

“By working with our like-minded partners, we can reach more young people. Our aim is always to prevent, but alongside this make everyone feel comfortable in coming forward and asking for help.”

Anyone feeling that they’re struggling to resist the temptation of gambling or finding that their wellbeing is being affected by a compulsion to gamble can find useful resources at The Wellbeing Hub, which can be accessed via https://club.teentips.co.uk/ or email schools@epicriskmanagement.com for more information on how to sign up.

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