29 Nov 21

‘What is the bravest thing you've ever said?’ asked the boy.

'Help,' said the horse.

'Asking for help isn't giving up,' said the horse. 'It's refusing to give up.”

— Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse

Man with horse | photo by Ethan Hu on Unsplash  People who are struggling with gambling often find it difficult to ask for help. They are not alone. Most people find it difficult to ask for help. 

Men in particular seem to find it most difficult of all. A study of ambulance responses to men’s mental health found that many men don’t seek help until they are already in physical or mental crisis. The first person many Australian men speak to about their distress is the paramedic attending an incident of self-harm. Many men feel that their peers will see them as weak or not masculine if they seek help. The truth is, seeking help is a sign of strength, and most people would be glad to hear their friend had reached out for help they need. 

Research shows us that most people who see a Gambling Help counsellor or financial counsellor at report they have benefited from the experience, but only a small percentage — 10% — of people who self-report experiencing a problem with gambling will ever seek professional help. If you’re struggling on your own instead of reaching out, have you thought about what is holding you back? 

We’ve previously looked at how you can prepare to see a counsellor for the first time to get the most benefit. Since many people don’t get to the point of seeing a counsellor in the first place, maybe we should  talk about some of the things that might be stopping and how to overcome them. 

What’s stopping you from reaching out to Gambling Help? 

1.    You’re embarrassed

We know there is a lot of social stigma about having a problem with gambling. That’s enough to stop a lot of people from wanting to admit they’re struggling. 

Counsellors at Gambler’s Help services will be non judgemental. They’ve seen all kinds of problems. They know how modern technology works to make gambling more addictive than ever. They know of the stresses and strains, especially against the backdrop of the pandemic. We know that gambling can offer temporary relief and the (usually false) hope of a better outcome. 

Counsellors are not surprised that people have problems. It’s very normal to us. 

2.    You insist insistence on self-reliance

We all like to think we can find solutions to our problems on our own. That’s why so many services have developed to offer self-help information — and it does help many people. However, research shows that support from another person or group can improve outcomes for people trying to change their gambling habits. 

A counsellor who can offer information, encouragement and support be incredibly helpful to help you develop the skills you need to overcome the problems you’re facing. 

3.    You’re scared to reveal your secret 

Have you been concealing the harm your gambling has caused?  Many people feel afraid that others will find out about the harm that gambling has caused to themselves and the people around them. 

Fortunately, sessions are confidential. While a counsellor might encourage you to reveal the extent of your gambling, they will never disclose your information without your consent (unless they are legally obligated by an imminent threat of danger to another person). 

4.    You don’t want to quit completely

Do you want to continue to gamble and think that a counsellor will want you to stop?  A counsellor will help you look at the total price you pay for gambling and not at just the money you have lost.  They can help you to reconnect to your ideal life and help you get there — even if continuing gambling is part of your ideal.

5.    You don’t want to be told what to do

Who does? None of us like being told what to do. Counsellors will offer information and strategies to help you make your own decisions — but the decisions about how to your manage your gambling will always remain yours.  

You have the right, which will always be respected, to resist any changes to your gamling that you do not want to make — no matter how stubborn your choices are. 

The counsellor however, will no doubt remind you that your choices are not without consequences. If you continue to gamble in a destructive manner, the people you care about may make changes to the way they interact with you. 

6.    It didn’t work for you in the past

It’s important to find the right therapist. Research suggests that the quality of the relationship between you and your therapist is a key factor in the success of your treatment. So if you’ve tried to get help in the past but haven’t found it helpful, it might be because the chemistry wasn’t right between you and your therapist — or you just weren’t ready yet. 

It’s normal to try a few different kinds of treatment until you find something that works for you. Maybe self-help modules or peer support programs are better suited to you, or maybe you’d have a better experience with a counsellor who is funnier, gentler, or more authoritative. The important thing is that you keep trying. 

7.    You don’t know where to get help

It can be confusing trying to navigate the different options, so we’re here to help you figure out the path that’s best for you. Give us a call on 1800 858 858 on chat to us online — free, confidential, 24/7. 

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