A GamCare study has found that the perceived stigma that problem gambling is a ‘male issue’ has been considered a key factor in the inability to seek support services for female gamblers.
The paper, developed by the Women’s Programme of GamCare, aims to provide the subject with outreach, education and awareness.
According to the service and treatment provider, the Women’s Programme seeks to use education and capacity development programmes in addition to the expertise of thousands of intermediaries who can help recognise women who need service for gambling-related harm.
The study found that those identifying as female reported experiencing high levels of shame and stigma because of social expectations that gambling is a male “activity” in which women can not or should not engage. raising questions about worrying patterns among women who are harmed by gambling.
In addition, GamCare noticed that some respondents reported the ‘dangerous assumptions’ that gambling could not be detrimental to themselves or their families as they were not their household’s financial owners, a dangerous stigma for those who need to seek help.
In order to break down perceived stigmas, respondents indicated that social perceptions of women, such as perceptions of becoming ‘good mothers’ and/or homemakers, still need to be addressed.
GamCare’s Chief Executive, Anna Hemmings, commented: “The issues that women are facing are often hidden from support services. Our Women’s Programme has told us that we need to remove barriers for women to access help with gambling related harm, but we also need to ensure that those providing that support are better equipped to help them.
“We must get to grips with the unnecessary shame and stigma women feel around asking for help. Gambling is not just a male activity, and it can affect women in significant, potentially life-changing ways.
“We have already achieved a lot in the first year of this programme, and I’m looking forward to the second year of the programme where we will be spreading the learning to improve support for women.”
Other survey results also found that gambling women reported substantial financial losses, with many reported in the tens of thousands, as well as a key problem recognised as having a negative effect on mental health.
Building on its commitment to helping problem gamblers, GamCare reaffirmed its intention to improve referral channels for women affected by gambling to help and treatment, as well as continue to collect lived experience from women around the UK and expand its evidence base for functioning treatment.
GamCare has concentrated on increasing awareness of gambling harms within UK populations during 2020, leading projects to break down barriers to treatment for BAME populations and strengthen the ability to avoid harm in occupational environments.