As of 3 July, people living in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and West Berkshire who are affected by harmful gambling, will be able to refer to the NHS Southern Gambling Service, a specialist gambling service, for support and treatment.
Funded by NHS England, as part of a national programme to support the increasing numbers of people seeking support with gambling addiction, the service will provide evidence-based treatment for people affected by gambling., by offering high quality assessment and three main treatment pathways: individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and medication for harmful gambling - with a strong focus on using digital approaches to deliver high quality care.
Sam Chamberlain, Professor of Psychiatry and Director for the new service, explained: “We are delighted to be able to expand our service to support people in these counties by offering online support those whose experiencing harmful gambling. There has been a significant growth in the number of people experiencing harmful gambling, with the number of people seeking support increasing by more than 40% in the last year.1
“Around 5% of people have some degree of gambling disorder in the UK, and the rate is even higher in particular vulnerable groups, such as young adults, or individuals who are homeless.”
The negative effects of gambling disorder vary from person to person, but evidence shows that it can lead to high levels of debt, losing a home, poor credit ratings, breakdown in relationships, loss of employment and income and can also have a detrimental effect on mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and substance use.
The Southern Gambling Service, based in Southampton, is one of 7 new NHS gambling services set up nationwide - and the first in the South of England – to tackle the growing problem. Professor Chamberlain added: "Gambling disorder is a common mental health condition that has many negative effects on people's lives. We are so pleased that gambling disorder has been recognised as a national and regional NHS priority.
“We have designed the service to be as accessible as possible and are able to accept self-referrals as well as referrals from healthcare professionals, so that people can get the help they need as quickly as possible."
Owen Baily is someone who knows the value of this new NHS service.
During his early 20s, Owen developed serious addiction problems relating to gambling which had a detrimental effect on his life. He finally sought support from the NHS Gambling Service.
“The NHS Gambling service support was a turning point in my life; I really valued the bespoke cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on offer, working with clinicians to support me through this challenging time and help me get on the right course to getting well and living a more fulfilling life. I would recommend anyone who is struggling with problems relating to gambling to seek help to get the support you deserve”.
This service is available to those over 17 years old currently experiencing harmful gambling and who consent to treatment. The service is now open to people across Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and West Berkshire.
If you know anyone living in Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire or West Berkshire you think would benefit from this service, visit: www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/sgs or email the team for a referral form at: email@example.com.
1 figures published this month show referrals for treatment for gambling addiction are up 42% between April and September this year with 599 patients referred, compared to 421 patients between April and September last year.