Each year at least 30% of callers to the National Gambling Helpline are women, half of whom call about their own gambling and half about someone else’s. One fifth of all clients in GamCare’s treatment services are women.
Women can be disproportionately affected by gambling-related harms, experiencing financial, relationship and mental health issues. Evidence also suggests that for women, emotional distress, trauma, domestic abuse or other pressures can make them vulnerable to developing gambling problems. These problems can cause a sense of isolation and have far reaching impacts on their families, communities and personal lives; however they are often hidden from support services.
In 2019 GamCare secured funds for two years from the Tampon Tax Fund to deliver the first national programme of outreach, education and awareness-raising across England, Scotland and Wales to tackle these issues systemically. Our team of outreach officers bring a range of skills and experience from multiple sectors, including health and social care, mental health, domestic abuse and education.
GamCare is working with a network of organisations who support women, raising awareness of how gambling is linked with a range of issues affecting women and girls and helping to better identify women in need.
In just the first year of delivering this programme, GamCare focused on barriers to women accessing help and in doing so worked with 300 organisations and more than 3,000 professionals to deliver our CPD accredited training – increasing the confidence of attendees to talk to women about gambling harms and support those affected. Through this programme we aim to use our learning to increase the skills and experience of thousands of intermediaries who can go on to better identify women who need support for gambling related harms.
We are strengthening referral pathways into support and treatment services as well as providing tailored treatment options in consultation with service users. We also aim to engage with academic partners to gather and interrogate data from screening and treatment services to ensure continuous improvement.
What Women Are Telling Us
As part of our programme, GamCare conducted a ‘Women’s Voices Survey’ of a representative sample of women who had sought help. Issues identified include levels of debt and expressions of suicidal thoughts. By definition, the sample does not include the much greater proportion of women who have not yet sought help or support.
GamCare’s Women’s Voices survey showed:
- Women who gamble report significant financial losses, with many reporting losses in the tens of thousands.
- Shame and stigma are significant barriers for those identifying as female to engaging with support services. Respondents reported that societal expectations of women – i.e. as needing to be ‘good mothers’ and/or homemakers – still need to be tackled.
- The universal issue reported was a detrimental impact on their mental health.