More calls made to gambling helpline

More calls made to gambling helpline

Many more people are calling the National Problem Gambling Helpline, underlining increased public awareness and willingness to seek help, say counsellors.

The 24-hour service has been handling about 21,000 calls annually for the past three years, a fourfold increase from 2009 when it was first set up.

Counsellors say the rising volume of helpline calls shows that those affected by gambling are more willing to seek help as the stigma of gambling addiction wanes. It also reflects greater awareness of avenues of help after public education campaigns.

“Gambling is often a hidden addiction which becomes known only when things get serious,” said Ms Tham Yuen Han, executive director of We Care Community Services which helps gambling addicts. It also treats other types of addictions.

“So it is a good sign that people are trying to get more information on where to go or what to do if they need help,” she added.

Its centre has started offering support group sessions daily, instead of just five days a week, as more gamblers go to it for support.

Slightly more than half of the helpline callers are Singaporeans.

While 60 per cent of the calls sought general information on gambling-related issues, the proportion of calls from gamblers or family members requesting help has risen to 40 per cent over the past two years, from 30 per cent between 2009 and 2011.

These gamblers or their family members and friends would call in to ask about or apply for casino exclusion orders.

The National Council on Problem Gambling said the gamblers who call tend to require counselling over the phone or ask to be referred for counselling.

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