Are you a professional concerned about someone’s gambling?
It’s common for people in various professions to come across people who are experiencing gambling-related harm. Gambling can be linked to a range of other issues, such as mental health, substance abuse, financial difficulties, housing problems, relationship breakdowns, domestic or family violence, and legal issues. Whether you work as a doctor, health worker, community worker, teacher, youth worker, legal or financial professional, or in the gambling industry, it's important to have access to information and resources that can help you support people who are experiencing gambling harm. Employers and colleagues may also encounter people dealing with negative impacts from gambling.
How can you help?
In your profession, you may come into contact with people who are experiencing gambling harm. To help people who are experiencing gambling harm, professionals can:
- educate themselves on gambling harm
- learn to recognise the signs of gambling harm
- learn to screen and assess for gambling harm
- develop strategies to start the conversation
- provide psychoeducation
- encourage the use of self-help activities
- provide brief or early intervention
- connect people to gambling support services
Our website can provide information on all of these roles. Go to:
- Learn About Gambling to educate yourself and recognise the signs of gambling harm
- Identifying Gambling Harm to learn about screening and assessment
- Having the Conversation to learn how to start the conversation, and
- Management and Referral learn about how you can provide psychoeducation, encourage self-help, provide brief or early intervention, and connect people to gambling support services
As a healthcare professional, some of your patients may be struggling with gambling-related issues, which could manifest as other health or mental health concerns. For instance, patients experiencing gambling harm may present with stress-related health issues or mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or substance use. It's essential to recognise the potential Links to Other Issues. Because there can be significant stigma and shame associated with gambling harm, your patients might be very reluctant to talk about their gambling but may feel more comfortable to talk instead about other co-occurring conditions.
As a general practitioner, you can play a crucial role in identifying people who are experiencing gambling harm through screening or assessment and starting the conversation about gambling with them. Even if you don't feel confident in treating harmful gambling yourself, you may be in a good position to provide psychoeducation, suggest self-help strategies, or refer patients to specialist support services. Recognising the signs of gambling harm and encouraging people to seek help can make a significant difference in their lives.
Health and community workers
Gambling harm can be linked to mental health issues like depression, anxiety or substance use – see Links to Other Issues. This can mean that people seek help from healthcare or community services, especially mental health services. Research shows that one-fifth of people presenting to Australian mental health services experience some level of gambling harm. If you work in healthcare or community services, you can help identify and screen for gambling harm in your clients, support them in their efforts to change their gambling, and connect them with the right help.
Gambling harm can lead to more severe psychiatric symptoms, alcohol and drug use problems, suicidal thoughts, and other health, social, cognitive, and financial issues. They can also make it harder for your client to engage in treatment and get better, especially if they are not identified and treated early on.
By providing education, your organisation can help raise awareness about the harm caused by gambling among your clients, their families, and the community. This can involve using the resources available on this website to educate people, as well as including information about gambling in your newsletters and updates. Additionally, your organisation can collaborate with other sectors to increase awareness of local specialist gambling services. By discussing gambling-related harm at network meetings and understanding the full implications of co-occurring conditions, your organisation can appropriately coordinate screening and service provision for your clients.
To best help people in your community who experience gambling harm, general health and community services can work with specialist gambling counsellors. By reaching out to the specialist gambling services in your community, understanding the services they offer, and discussing ways to strengthen the relationship between services, you can help ensure the best outcomes for your clients.
Pub, club, and casino workers
The gambling industry has a responsibility to minimise harm caused by gambling. Pubs, hotels, clubs, and casinos have legal requirements in place to prevent and minimise harm related to gambling. However, as managers and staff members, there are additional ways that you can support patrons, show commitment to reducing gambling harm and promote the wellbeing of your community.
Managers can implement strategies to increase the responsible conduct of gambling for venues. These include:
- supporting staff to identify and assist patrons who need help
- creating a strong culture of gambling harm minimisation
- encouraging breaks in play through venue and service design
- promoting local support services
- breaking down the stigma associated with gambling harm
- making sure self-exclusion is understood, available, enforced and promoted
- promoting strategies to reduce gambling harm
- enabling and responding to customer complaints
The staff members who work at gambling venues interact directly with patrons on a daily basis, and they are in a unique position to identify risky gambling behaviour. Managers can ensure that their staff members are trained to recognise these behaviours, understand their venue's policies and procedures, and know when to intervene. Signs of risky gambling behaviour can include the amount of time a patron spends playing, how they handle their money, their behaviour while gambling, and their social interactions. Actions to take when these signs are observed include:
- Monitoring the person’s behaviour
- Recording what you have seen on an incident register, if you have one
- Notifying your manager or licensee
- Considering whether an immediate response is required according to your venue’s policies and procedures
Teachers and youth workers
Some people do not realise that gambling can be a concern for young people. However, gambling is becoming a significant issue for young people, and they may not know where to turn for help. As a result, teachers and youth workers can play a crucial role in promoting healthy attitudes toward gambling. When discussing the harms of gambling among young people, it's important to recognise the overlap between gambling and gaming.
As a teacher or youth worker, you may be able to identify signs of gambling harm in young people that their families may not see. Even if a young person doesn't approach you directly, they may need someone to talk to confidentially about gambling-related harm, whether it is for themselves, a friend, or a family member. You can let them know that there is kid-friendly help available online, over the phone, and in-person where they can get the support they need. See Gambling and Young People for more information about youth gambling and how to support young people who are gambling themselves or have a parent or other family member who gambles.
For teachers, your school can also help raise awareness about the harm caused by gambling among your students, their families, and the community. You can use the resources available on this website as part of your school's education, including information about gambling and the specialist gambling services and other counselling options available in your community in your newsletters and updates.
Legal and financial workers
People experiencing gambling harm often have financial and legal issues. Some might have financial problems, including debts - see Managing Money and Resolving Financial Challenges. Some might be facing charges relating to a financial crime or a domestic violence offence - see Resolving Legal Challenges.
If a person's financial or legal problems are linked to gambling, it may be necessary for them to access professional financial and legal help. Financial counsellors, lawyers, and other financial and justice workers should ask whether gambling has contributed to their financial or legal problems. Your role may involve encouraging clients who experience gambling harm to seek counselling or other forms of support, such as banning themselves from gambling venues or websites – see Gambling Self-Exclusion for more information. Legal professionals may also find it helpful to ask for letters or attendance or court reports from specialist gambling counsellors that can be taken into consideration in sentencing decisions – see Resolving Legal Challenges for more information.
Employers and workmates
You may notice that someone at work is showing signs that they may be gambling too much. This could be indicated by things like having sports betting materials on their desk or often being on betting websites. In some cases, there may be an accumulation of less obvious signs like arriving to work late or leaving early, taking many sick days, not being as productive at work, or asking for salary advances. See Signs of a Problem for more information about how to recognise signs at work.
Employers have a responsibility to take care of their employees' health and wellbeing at work. If you are an employer and you are concerned about the safety of your employees due to gambling, you should follow your workplace's guidelines on how to help them. One way to lessen the impact of gambling is to have a workplace policy for it. This could include looking at whether employees use work devices for gambling, sharing information about the harms of gambling, and setting rules for what is acceptable behaviour regarding gambling at work. Make sure to communicate the policy and support options to your staff.
If you're worried that your co-worker is experiencing gambling harm and that it could lead to problems at work, you can take steps to help them before it's too late. First, check if your workplace has a policy on gambling and familiarise yourself with it. This will help you understand what you should and shouldn't do as an employee, and when you should speak up. It will also give you an idea of what is allowed in the workplace in terms of gambling.
If you're an employer or a co-worker, you might want to talk to your colleague about some services that can help them. There are some tips in our section Starting the Conversation that can help you with this. You can also talk to your supervisor, HR team, or Employee Assistance Program for advice on how to handle the situation. You can also talk this through with one of our services – see Seeking Support on the different ways that you can get some support with this.
Research into the causes, consequences and treatment of gambling problems and harm is well documented in Australia and internationally. There are many resources available on this website. Moreover, most Australian states and territories have information and resources on their websites. Find your local jurisdiction website by visiting the Local Support page.
Gambling Help Online are currently not allowing any external research requests or recruitment messages, to be posted anywhere on our website, on our Forum or Social Media Accounts. While we understand the importance of research into addiction, the primary purpose of Gambling Help Online is to provide a safe and helpful space for people experiencing gambling harm to seek support and assistance. Any posts involving research requests and research recruitment will be removed and repeated attempts to post might result in accounts being blocked or deleted. If you’d like to discuss your research with our service, please send us a general enquiry here or contact your state or territory counterpart.
How can we support you?
Across professions, people will have different levels of expertise or training in gambling harm. Even if you don’t feel well equipped to treat people experiencing gambling harm yourself, you can still provide valuable support by identifying people with gambling harm, discussing their gambling with them, and helping them find appropriate resources and services – see Identifying Gambling Harm, Having the Conversation and Management and Referral. We understand that supporting someone who is experiencing gambling harm can be difficult. If you need more information to effectively support the person you’re working with, our counsellors can help. They are available to assist you with any questions you may have regarding gambling.
In your professional role, you may also come across the family members or friends of people experiencing gambling harm. These people often experience gambling-related harm and may also need help and support too, either in relation to supporting the person who gambles or to take care of themselves. Family members and friends may benefit from our information on Looking After Yourself and Seeking Support.
Do you want more help?
To find out more about how professionals can help, you can start an online chat with us or call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 – free, confidential, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These services are available to support anyone affected by gambling harm, including family members, friends, and professionals like you.
Do you want to know how professionals can support you with gambling harm?
This page is designed for professionals looking for information about how they can help clients, patients, or colleagues. If you'd like to learn more about professional services available to support you with gambling harm, have a look at these pages instead:
Series: Support and counselling options
- How Gambling Helpline can help
- How ongoing gambling counselling can help
- How gambling online chat can help
- How financial counselling can help
- How gambling email support can help
- How gambling SMS support can help
- How gambling online forums can help
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