A recent survey that aimed to explore the intersection of mental health and gambling behavior has revealed a concerning link between mental health conditions and susceptibility to gambling harm.
The research was built on the 2022 Treatment and Support Survey by Gamble Aware and was carried out by data analytics company Alma Economics.
Among other things, it emphasized the need for tailored support for individuals whose gambling behaviors are symptomatic of underlying mental health issues.
Higher problem gambling severity linked with poorer mental health
The study focused on examining the link between gambling behaviors and mental health using pre-existing data from a 2022 survey.
The analysis involved a regression analysis, a statistical technique to determine variables impacting behaviors. The findings revealed a correlation between a higher Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) score and an increased probability of having a mental health disorder, with a one-unit increase in PGSI score leading to a roughly 3% higher likelihood of having a mental health condition.
GambleAware‘s 2022 survey highlighted that approximately 1.5 million individuals were classified as problem gamblers, marked by a PGSI score of 8+. This figure indicated a 23% increase from 2020. In parallel, the research indicated that around 7.5 million individuals reported having a mental health diagnosis in 2022, representing an 11% rise from 2020.
Yet this does not only highlight easy access to offers such free spins on card registration for UK players. The key to tackling this issue is the promotion of both the importance of responsible gambling, and mental health awareness.
Depression emerged as the most frequently reported mental health condition, affecting 7.2 million individuals, followed by anxiety impacting 5.7 million, and posttraumatic stress disorder reaching 1.1 million.
Gambling Harms Are Also Experienced By “Affected Others”
The study also investigated the harms experienced by “affected others,” – individuals who are impacted by someone else’s gambling behavior. The research revealed that around 3.5 million people in Great Britain were affected others, a 9% increase from the previous year. Additionally, among those identifying as affected others, around 800,000 people fell under the PSGI 1+ category.
Trust issues emerged as the most prevalent harm experienced by affected others, with 1.8 million individuals citing this problem. Financial troubles were also a recurring theme with 1.0 million affected individuals reporting reduced household income and 1.0 million reporting a dearth of funds for larger family expenses such as trips abroad.
Furthermore, the research underscored a distressing finding: individuals experiencing gambling harms faced an increased risk of suicidal ideation. Specifically, financial hardship was linked to a 10% increase in the likelihood of suicidal thoughts.
Way Forward: Call For Further Research And Targeted Intervention
The study concluded by suggesting that a nuanced approach to support is essential for individuals whose gambling-related behaviors are driven by mental health conditions. Different forms of assistance might be required to help individuals using gambling as a self-harm practice or as a coping mechanism.
The report also proposed conducting more in-depth analyses of specific demographic groups and their experiences with gambling problems and their mental health condition.
Specifically, the survey’s report suggested that further research could focus on the gambling experiences of distinct age brackets, ethnicities, or diverse sexual orientations, along with the potential variations in their mental health due to the challenges posed by gambling.
Zoë Osmond, Chief Executive of GambleAware highlighted the significance of recognizing the connection between mental health and gambling to tailor effective treatment strategies.
Since the findings highlight the challenges faced by those close to the problem gambler, she urged medical practitioners and gambling support groups to offer mental health support for affected others too.
Therefore, this survey provides a compelling incentive for further research and targeted intervention to address the complex interplay between mental health conditions and gambling behaviors.