The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have outlined their ‘five-year strategy’ to try and reduce suicide rates, and included in their list of related risks is gambling harm.
DHSC Undersecretary for Mental Health, Maria Caulfield, revealed £150m in funds to bolster the NHS’s wide-reaching care for at-risk patients.
For the first time, gambling harm was listed a new ‘related risk’ to the growing suicide rates. The DHSC recognised external factors such as the cost of living crisis and rising levels of poverty have led to more people turning to gambling as a financial crutch. This, in turn, has led to record levels of gambling harm and addiction, prompting them to list it as a related risk to suicide.
In its analysis, DHSC referenced “increasing evidence of the link between harmful gambling and suicide, especially in younger people” following Public Health England’s report in January of this year.
This latest strategy from DHSC is symptomatic of the wider outlook towards gambling harm among legislators, with the government’s Gambling White Paper revealed this year introducing a slew of new measures such as levys for operators, age-orientated spending limits and tougher measures on advertising.
The NHS also announced the opening of 15 new problem gambling treatment clinics, while will be open and operational by the end of September.
Outlined in their announcement, the DHSC said: “Many risk factors are shared across different individuals, groups, and communities. Actions addressing these risks are therefore likely to prevent suicides at a population level, offering potential benefits for specific groups.”
The DHSC will collaborate with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, as well as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to reinforce programmes and support networks put in place for those most at risk to gambling harm.