GambleAware focused on ‘reducing stigma and the barriers people face’

GambleAware has issued fresh guidance on stigmatising language and gambling harms, as well as making a number of key recommendations for further research, service provision, policy, and media campaigns.

In a bid to help reduce stigma and discrimination experienced by those who gamble, Dr Anne Stangl, Triantafyllos Pliakas, and Mariana Siapka analysed evidence on stigma, discrimination and gambling from 54 individual studies and nine review papers across 19 countries.

Among the recommendations issued for researchers and others working on gambling harms include using person-first language in studies and campaigns in order to underline that gambling disorder is a mental disorder, not a label or identity.

This, it said, would reduce the risk of provoking negative associations or attitudes or the risk of the person in question feeling blamed, with GambleAware adding that person-first language shows that a person ‘has’ a problem rather than ‘is’ the problem.

In addition to eradicating stigmatising words such as “addict,” the report also suggests that terms such as ‘person with a gambling disorder’ or ‘person who struggles with gambling’ should be used instead of ‘gambling addict’ or ‘problem gambler’.

Furthermore, the report also examined stigma in other contexts and found that the ways in which this arises, and the damaging effects it can have on people, are similar to those around a range of health behaviours and conditions, such as mental health, drug and alcohol use, cancer, obesity, and HIV.

For people working in healthcare settings a number of recommendations on how to avoid reinforcing stigma around gambling are made, including raising awareness, increased training and involving those with lived experience in training and research.

“Over the coming months and years, a major part of our work will be focused on reducing stigma and the barriers people face when accessing the support they need,” commented Zoë Osmond, CEO of the GambleAware.

“We welcome the study findings and will use the recommendations to strengthen our work, including our public health campaigns to raise awareness of gambling harms and encourage people to get help.”

The charity adds that the recommendations and evidence gaps identified will be used as the basis for further new research that GambleAware plans to fund, in order to explore people’s lived experiences of stigma, understand which communities are most impacted by it, and set out potential solutions in both policy and society.