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Forums / Multicultural experiences / The STIGMA – Gambling and mental health issues in my community

Topic: The STIGMA – Gambling and mental health issues in my community

4 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    23 February 2018

    People with gambling issues within many communities are often perceived as failures in every facet of life. they are judged as weak, irresponsible, unreliable ad manipulative.

    Due the above factors community members are often reluctant to even admit there is a gambling issue.
    Tribal, collectivist community dynamics have lead community members to insulate this issue in fear of “public/community opinion” and judgement.
    Traditionally, in my ethnic background, Greek “Kafeneia” – Café hangouts – have been considered as “dark places” where males who are “useless, lazy & washouts” tend to gather for hours on a daily basis. This also happens in shopping centres in Australia.

    Since the establishment of Crown and gaming venues in Victoria there has been an acute influx in female community members, many of them elderly or disabled or living with a mental illness presenting serious problem gambling issues.

    Shame can act as a barrier to seeking help. Even where gambling help services assure anonymity they can’t always engage with these individuals as they live in fear of information being leaked to their community. This means that relatives of these community members are unable to provide assistance to the gambler until the situation reaches crisis point.

    Once a community member has been identified as gambler this has a direct impact on the entire family’s prospects in business, marriage and social status. Often there are also mental health issues associated with gambling and additional stigma.

    There are countless examples of a gambler’s entire family being isolated and ostracized from the community. This harassment and bullying deeply affects many individuals and families and are often responsible for the mental illness that surfaces.

    The aim of this thread is to seek factual information about the causes/ triggers of addiction of gambling and to de- stigmatize it within the community (Greek and mainstream). What's your experience?

    Have you noted that in your community members are a lot more comfortable talking about drug abuse than gambling? This is common in my community.


    1 person found this helpful
  2. PamelaR
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    PamelaR avatar
    2740 posts
    3 March 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hello Donte

    I grew up in an environment where 'gambling' was the norm. I'm from a multicultural background. Mother was Australian (from British and European descent) and father was from Dutch/Chinese (with a little Indonesian or Malaysian). English was the only language spoken in the house.

    Both my parents played the pokies. In those days, there were none in Queensland, they had to go into New South Wales which they did on a regular basis. I don't know how much they won or lost it was never discussed. My father used to also go to the TAB on a Saturday morning to place his bets. Later on he took a job where he had to go to the greyhound track, trots and horse race track. Again I have absolutely no idea how much he won or lost.

    When I was a young child, the family would play poker for match sticks and as I grew up it was for 1 and 2 cent coins.

    As an adult I didn't gamble - mainly because there were no pokies or casinos in Queensland and I didn't travel to NSW to play. I starting playing the pokies while living in South Australia, where they were freely available and after I got a promotion that meant I had some 'disposable income'. At first I only took $20 once a week/fortnight. But then I hit a jackpot. Well, that sent me into a spiral and it was also at the time when I started to have anxiety and depression issues associated with childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

    I used the pokies to go into a trance - complete focus, numbing out my emotions and feelings. I didn't tell my husband or anyone. Why? not sure, maybe because my husband was raised in a family where gambling was 'not the norm' (methodist background). He didn't even want to purchase a raffle ticket. I told my husband only when I wanted to stop because I had built up a huge credit card debt. I went to see a counsellor that specialised in childhood sexual abuse and told him about my gambling problems too. It only took a short while and I ceased playing.

    Unfortunately, I started again, about 5 years later when I got my memory back of my childhood rape. Again I spiralled out of control, building up a credit card debt. This time I had myself banned from the places I frequented, told my husband and my psych. Have not been back since.

    I believe I used the pokies as a mechanism to tune out from emotions, feelings, the outside world. It is still gambling though and I have wasted a lot of money.

    I can't explain why it's not talked about, other than feeling shame for wasting money.

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    3 March 2018 in reply to PamelaR

    Hi PamelaR,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate your honesty and believe you have raised some very important points that are applicable to addictions of any type. Escaping pain and shame are two common denominators that drive people when it comes to getting hooked on some addictive behavior. Interesting enough the mental health issues escalate the more deeper we fall into the addictive behavior.

    The thing with addictions is that when we can stop, we don’t want to; and when we want to, we can’t.

    Distracting ourselves from feeling pain and avoidance from addressing deeper issues is at the core of the behavior. Of course, winning, money, competitive behavior that excites people and gives us a buzz are also part of it.

    I’m glad you seeked help and put parameters around your behavior in order to minimize the harm. I understand how difficult it is for many when there are pokies machines in every corner nowadays and unlike whenyou were growing up, very easily accessible now, including online gaming.

    For anyone who’s reading this if you or anyone you know needs help:
    Lifeline on 13 11 14
    Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
    MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
    Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
    Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
    Headspace on 1800 650 890

  4. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    3 March 2018 in reply to Donte'
    If you or anyone you know needs help:
    Lifeline on 13 11 14
    Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
    MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
    Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
    Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
    Headspace on 1800 650 890
    1 person found this helpful

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