Mental Health and Gambling


Gambling is an activity in which people place bets on the outcome of games that involve chance. The stakes may be money or items of value, such as a car or a house. It is illegal to gamble without a licence in most countries. People gambling for money can risk financial problems, as well as personal and family issues. They can also experience negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression. People who have a mental health condition are more at risk of harmful gambling. In extreme cases, it can lead to suicide or self-harm. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 999 or visit A&E immediately.

Many people enjoy gambling as entertainment and can have positive social experiences through it. It can help improve concentration and focus, as well as exercise the brain. It can also help people to develop skills and strategies that they can apply to other activities, such as work or school.

It is an opportunity for socialisation, with friends and family often visiting casinos together or attending betting events. It can also be an exciting and fun way to spend time, with the excitement of winning money and the buzz of trying to beat the odds.

While it can be enjoyable, for some people it becomes addictive and can cause harm to their lives. It is important to recognise the signs of a problem, such as losing more money than you can afford, hiding or lying about gambling activity, and becoming reliant on it for emotional support. Some people even resort to stealing or fraud to finance their gambling habit, which can have serious legal and psychological consequences.

Those with a mental health condition are at increased risk of developing problems with gambling, and should seek help if they are concerned. There are many services available to those who have a gambling problem, including treatment, support groups and self-help tips. The biggest step is recognising that there is a problem, but it is possible to break the cycle and rebuild your life. There are many inspiring stories, such as footballer Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance clinic and James Grimes, who overcame his addiction to gambling on football and now works through his group The Big Step to help others overcome theirs.

If you are worried about gambling, speak to a professional therapist. You can find a therapist in your area using our free, confidential service. Get matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.