Gambling and Your Mental Health

How does gambling relate to my mental health?

When people gamble, it can feel exciting. If we win, that can lift our mood and change the way that we feel. If we have been going through a tough time, winning a bet can make us feel like things might be turning around for us. That feeling can be something we want to replicate.

Sometimes gambling can be part of socialising, for example if a group of people go to an event where betting is a part of the event, such as horse-racing, for example. It can be easy to feel caught up in the excitement around us.

Gambling is based on chance, or luck, and that means that there is no telling if a bet will be won or not in advance, because no bet is a guaranteed win. If we have won a bet before, we can feel pulled to try and get the feeling of winning back, because it was an exhilarating feeling.

However, because there is no guaranteed win, there are often a lot of lost bets too. It can be hard to stop when we are on a losing streak, because we can feel like maybe the next one will win. Sometimes this means that people spend or bet more than they have to bet and can end up losing more than they can afford, leaving them in debt.

Debt can affect our mental health negatively because it causes stress and worry. Because gambling can be addictive, it can be hard to stop even if we are in debt, and so we can end up in a tough financial time and we can find hard to stop ourselves from making it worse.

How Can I Reduce Risk Around Gambling?

As we mentioned, gambling can be an addictive behaviour, because the feeling of winning can be so good, we want to find a way to feel it again. However, if you are going to gamble, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of becoming addicted, or getting involved with more than you can afford:

  • Try and avoid online gambling and place bets in a physical shop or casino instead. Online gambling is available constantly, which means it can be hard to avoid the temptation of places more bets than you should
  • Think about what you are betting in terms of what are can afford to lose, rather than what you might win, and only bring the amount of money that you are prepared to lose with you when you are going to place a bet.
  • If you do gamble online, put a limit on your deposit, and have this limit be a manageable level in comparison to what you have to spend (I.e. make sure you’re not in danger of overspending)
  • It can be tempted to try and win back your losses but try to avoid this – nobody has ever gambled their way out of their gambling problem.
  • Try to avoid gambling if you have been drinking or using drugs as this could reduce your impulse control or impair your judgement.
  • Avoid using gambling as a way to distract yourself from your problems. Gambling won’t make things better, and there is a risk it could make them worse.

There’s lots more information and support available if you need it.

Mental health

  • If you feel like you’re using gambling to numb your emotions because of stress, contact your college counselling services to arrange an appointment to talk to someone
  • For useful resources on your mental health go to the ‘Mind Your Mental Health’ on usi.ie
  • HSE’s yourmentalhealth.ie has specific advice on how to mind your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
  • If you are worried about your own gambling habits or that of someone close to you, check out https://www.problemgambling.ie/ for more information
  • If you feel you are at risk of suicide during the pandemic, call 999/112 or present to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department
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