Photo: Jay Hynes
We are very good at giving ourselves permission to ignore messages aimed at making us do something differently or stop doing something altogether.
Our internal biases help us rationalise this. We say, ‘That’s not me’ and ‘I don’t need to’, either because doing nothing is easier or we don’t want to stop. For gamblers, this is very common. There is no problem until it is a very big one.
The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s latest Gambler’s Help campaign is tackling this notion head-on.
‘I’m so glad I did it when I did’
The aim of the campaign is to help people self-identify in ways they haven’t before, and to introduce the idea that you can successfully change your gambling behaviour before it has become an issue.
The foundation’s recent study Assessing gambling-related harm in Victoria shows that harm extends beyond a relatively small number of people with serious gambling problems. In fact, the bulk of harm is experienced by those Victorians categorised as low and moderate-risk gamblers. As these groups easily dismiss risky gambling messages, it is a challenge to reach and influence them.
The campaign slogan, ‘I’m so glad I did it when I did’, infers that Gambler’s Help can be a positive experience that doesn’t need to be avoided. In fact, the sooner you do it, the better it gets.
‘I didn’t think I needed it at first …’
The campaign features a man in his thirties successfully receiving support for issues with gambling. We approached this story from two different points of view: the gambler’s perspective and that of his best mate.
From the gambler’s perspective, we show how getting help early can be a smart, preventative choice. We also show how close friends can pick up on the signs of gambling – in this case the mate who had noticed his friend was having trouble and is glad to have him back.
‘I had a couple of good chats online with someone at Gambler’s Help,’ our character says. ‘I’m feeling like my old self again’. This was one of the key motivations we found in our research with people with gambling issues – wanting to be able to return to their old life.
Using the mate’s perspective, we introduce some of the signs that suggest an issue with gambling, like trying to win back losses. We also address the issue of stigma faced by gamblers in seeking help. The mate tells us that his friend ‘was worried what we’d think of him’. He adds, ‘We just wanted him back to his old self’. We hope the mate's concern and understanding helps set the scene for normalising help-seeking and making conversations about the issue easier.
The response so far has been heartening. During June 2016, the first month of the campaign, average daily visits to gamblershelp.com.au increased by 500 per cent. The campaign page, Take the first step to feeling good again, received over 32,000 visits.
How to get help
If you are concerned about your own, or someone else’s betting behaviour, seek free, practical and confidential advice from Gambler’s Help or call 1800 858 858.