Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) has launched a new training programme on gambling addictions for healthcare professionals, including general practicioners, in conjunction with Bournemouth University, the Responsible Gambling Council, and Betknowmore UK.
YGAM said the scheme, named the Mindful Resilience Programme, is intended to provide healthcare professionals ith “evidence-led, accredited, quality training” on the health risks associated with gambling harm and other unhealthy online behaviours.
“Gambling-related harm is a public health issue so this initiative will give healthcare practitioners the expert knowledge, support and resources they need,” YGAM founder and chief executive Lee Willows said. “In bringing together these highly respected organisations, we can combine our resources and insight to provide an incredibly important training programme.
“I’m confident this new programme will complement YGAM’s existing prevention programmes and will have a hugely positive impact on the lives of individuals who seek help”.
The scheme will initially start in London before expanding to the West Midlands in 2021, with aims for a national rollout in 2022.
“We are thrilled to be working with YGAM on this project,” Dr Sarah Hodge, lecturer in psychology at Bournemouth University, said. “In this digital age young people can be vulnerable to digital related harms, such as through activities related to their gaming and gambling.
“This is a really exciting project to support the awareness and the communication of these potential harms facing young people to practitioners through co-creating workshop materials as well as developing the concept of digital resilience.”
YGAM said a major reason for the scheme was a 2019 report into gambling-related suicide published by the Gambling Commission, which highlighted a need for greater awareness of the issue among GPs and other primary care and frontline service providers.
The report, using analysis of the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, found that 5% of those who had attempted suicide in the previous year were problem gamblers, with a further 5% classed as ‘at risk’ gamblers.
“Betknowmore UK has pioneered working closely with local communities, and in doing so, we understand the role that health and community services can play in addressing gambling-related harm,” Betknowmore chief executive and founder Frankie Graham said.
“It is quite right that healthcare professionals have enhanced understanding and recognition of gambling harms, and the tools to engage positively and authentically with individuals who may present with gambling issues.”
The Canada-based Responsible Gaming Council (RGC) will evaluate the programme and its impacts in order to judge its successes and failures.
“RGC will lead the evaluation of the Mindful Resilience training programme, providing an independent assessment of the programme’s delivery and impact among participating health care professionals,” RGC senior researcher Dr. Sasha Stark said.
“We look forward to working alongside leaders in the prevention and education space in the UK to increase health care professionals’ awareness of and skills for identifying problematic gambling and other digital behaviours.
“Limited information is available to primary care professionals on gambling-related harms and we believe this initiative will both support practitioners in their work and increase access to support for a large number of patients experiencing harm.”
The programme follows a series of other recent schemes from YGAM, including a training scheme for workers in the British gambling industry to identify signs of problem gambling, again in collaboration with Betknowmore. It also made a series of organisational changes in order to better reach BAME communities following a review of its engagement with these communities.