Record number of people contacted gambling helpline in 2023 – figures

A record number of people sought help for gambling problems through the national helpline last year, according to new figures. Some 52,370 people called the National Gambling Helpline in 2023 looking for information, support and counselling – a 24% rise on 2022, when there were around 42,000 calls.

The helpline, run by GamCare, saw a sharp rise in calls during the festive period – there was a 39% increase in calls throughout December 2023 compared with the same month the year before.

Helpline advisers said they noticed an increase in calls from people who had been concerned about someone else’s gambling throughout the holiday season.

They also received numerous calls from addicts saying they struggled to watch television with their families due to the volume of gambling advertising.

The charity also launched a service through the WhatsApp messenger app last year, and had thousands of interactions with gambling addicts and their loved ones using the messaging service.

It also helps people to control their online gambling with blocking software – called Gamban – which can be installed on multiple devices.

“The increased number of calls to the helpline comes after the launch of the National Gambling Support Network last year, and clearly demonstrates the need for and importance of prevention and early intervention support services”

– say Anna Hargrave, from GambleAware.

GamCare said that almost 7,000 Gamban blocking software licences were registered for free through its TalkBanStop initiative.

Samantha Turton, head of remote support services at GamCare, said:

“We are used to seeing small increases in the volume of people contacting us each year. However, in 2023 there has been a landmark climb in people reaching out who want to start their recovery journey from gambling. While it is concerning to see the rising numbers who need help, we are encouraged that advisers are reporting an increase in calls from people who are reaching out at an earlier stage.”

“This is an invaluable step to prevent gambling harm from escalating further down the line, and we encourage anyone to get in touch if they feel ready to discuss their relationship with it, no matter what stage they are at. We know how difficult it can be to open up about gambling for the first time and we’re here to listen. We want people to know we are here for you 24/7, we understand, and we can help.”

Anna Hargrave, chief commissioning and strategy officer at GambleAware, added:

“The increased number of calls to the helpline comes after the launch of the National Gambling Support Network last year, and clearly demonstrates the need for and importance of prevention and early intervention support services.These support services need to be prioritised within the new system once the statutory gambling levy is introduced, as we know that swift intervention is essential to help people in the early stages of experiencing gambling harm, before it becomes even more serious.”

Commenting on the figures, NHS England’s mental health director, Claire Murdoch, said:

“Gambling addiction is a cruel mental health condition that can ruin people’s lives. The NHS is playing its part in treating it, with 12 gambling harms clinics currently open as part of our £2.3 billion investment into mental health services. So, if you are struggling with a gambling addiction, I urge you to come forward for help.”

The free National Gambling Helpline can be reached on 0808 8020 133 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Source: centralfifetimes.com

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