Gambling Research Australia has conducted the largest research program on self-help strategies and implementation in Australia, with important results for potential problems gamblers.

The GRA’s study provides comprehensive descriptions and analysis of self-help strategies, within an Australian context.

It cites that self-help is the most widely used and first-choice method of help amongst troubled gamblers – defined as ‘resources, strategies and actions people use to control or maintain change to their gambling that they do themselves, without necessarily interacting with other people’.

The study incorporated analysis of 34 gambling-related websites that freely provide self-help strategies, and explains that “the gambling literature is to a large degree focused on directly limiting time and money spent gambling, meaning that self-help actions such as improving health and wellbeing, known to be helpful for other mental health disorders, have not typically been explored in terms of their helpfulness for gambling”.

References to the significance of mental health and/or disorders appear throughout the report, including the efficacy of programs such as Mental Health First Aid in helping family members and peers to reach out and support people with a range of issues and addictions.

“A similar approach for problem gambling is likely to be beneficial in overcoming some of the barriers identified in the current report.”

The report’s summary on its analysis of online counselling laments that more research has not been done on the inter-relationship between poor mental health and developing problems with gambling.

“Given the data were taken from online counselling transcripts, where brief and time limited interventions typically focus on the presenting issue (i.e., the gambling) rather than exploring other issues, it is likely that the impact of comorbid mental health issues are not fully represented.”

The gaming industry is often quoted alongside Government and other stakeholders in pronouncing that no-one wants people to develop gambling problems.

If harm minimisation and nanny-state advocates genuinely wish to address the issue of problem gamblers and the flow-on effect they inflict on those close to them, more must be done to understand what put them in a situation where they sought the escape, and less on the vehicle getting them there.

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