In the midst of the World Cup, it is more important now than ever that gambling disorder is taken seriously as a mental illness, warns the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Speaking as the Royal College of Psychiatrists Lead on Behavioural Addictions, Consultant Psychiatrist Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE, said:
“We must acknowledge gambling disorder as a mental illness and treat it accordingly, in an evidence-based way within an NHS setting. We welcome the news of the two new gambling addiction clinics which have opened in England today, we must do all we can to provide patients with the treatment they deserve.
“Gambling disorder has a devastating impact on individuals and families. People feel trapped and sometimes their gambling can get out of control, leading to severe mental illness as well as suicidal thinking.
“It is estimated that more than 400 lives lost to suicide each year in England are associated with problem gambling. There will be thousands of people out there in urgent need of help, which is why this also must be seen as a public health issue."
The College’s warning comes in the midst of World Cup matches which started at the weekend. Professor Bowden-Jones, the Country’s first National Clinical Advisor on Gambling Harms, continued:
“The starting of the World Cup will have inevitably acted as a trigger to many. Our patients are often very anxious about their ability to manage their cravings and urges, particularly at a time with even more devastating consequences as we face the impending cost-of-living crisis.
“With this in mind, it is important for everyone with a gambling disorder to put appropriate self-exclusion agreements in place, both online and in-person. This will make it much harder for them to gamble online or in bookmakers.
“We encourage anyone struggling to cope to seek help before it gets to the point of no return.”