Mental Health and Hidden Dangers of Gambling Harm

May is recognized worldwide as Mental Health Awareness Month. This is a time dedicated to raising awareness and reducing stigma surrounding mental health issues. While much progress has been made in increasing understanding and support for conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The hidden dangers of gambling harm need similar attention.

Understanding Gambling Harm

Gambling harm is the result of any consequences related to gambling. Gambling harm can become a gambling disorder, which is characterized by an inability to control gambling impulses despite negative consequences. Like other forms of addiction, gambling disorder can have devastating effects on an individual’s life, leading to financial ruin, strained relationships, and psychological distress.

The Link to Mental Health

Research has shown a clear link between gambling harm and mental health disorders (Pricel et al., 2021). Individuals struggling with conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD may turn to gambling. They may see gambling as a way to cope with their symptoms or escape from troubling realities. In turn, the stress and financial strain caused by gambling harm can exacerbate existing mental health issues. This can create a vicious cycle.

Gambling harm often co-occurs with other addictive behaviors. This can further complicate the picture, making treatment more challenging. Without proper intervention and support, individuals facing both mental health challenges and gambling harm may feel trapped in a cycle of despair.

The Importance of Awareness and Support

It’s crucial to recognize the need for greater awareness and support for individuals struggling with gambling harm. Just as we advocate for understanding and compassion for those facing mental health disorders, we must extend the same empathy to those battling gambling disorder.

  • Screening for gambling harm is essential. There is an opportunity for health professionals to screen for gambling harm. They can screen people presenting with mental health and substance use disorders. It may be that by treating the gambling harm, there will be a positive impact on co-occurring conditions, such as mental health disorders.
  • One of the most significant barriers to addressing gambling harm is the stigma that surrounds it. Many individuals may feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek help, fearing judgment or condemnation from others. By raising awareness and promoting open, non-judgmental discussion about gambling harm, we can create an environment where individuals feel safe and supported in seeking assistance.

Support Services

If you find yourself struggling with gambling harm, or if you suspect someone you know is facing such challenges, don’t hesitate to seek help. For 24/7 support, call the NYS OASAS HOPEline at 1-877-846-7369 or text 467369. Or choose your county using our interactive map on our HOME PAGE to see the contact information for the Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) in your region.


As we reflect on the importance of mental health during this month, let us not forget those who are silently battling gambling harms. We can break down barriers, reduce stigma, and provide hope and support to those in need. Together, let’s work towards a future where everyone struggling with mental health and gambling harm receives the understanding, compassion, and help they need and deserve.