NHS to roll out gambling addiction services for young people

NHS England has announced its intent to open the first gambling addiction clinics aimed specifically at children and young adults.

The move is part of the NHS’s ‘Long Term Plan’ and looks to tackle the increasing concern over the impact of targeted marketing and online gaming sites on problem gambling. The Gambling Commission recently revealed that 450 000 children in England are gambling on a regular basis – more than those who have smoked, taken alcohol and/or drugs – with 55 000 children classified as having a gambling problem.

Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive, said: ‘The links between problem gambling and stress, depression and mental health problems are growing and there are too many stories of lives lost and families destroyed. This action shows just how seriously the NHS takes the threat of gambling addiction, even in young people’.

At the moment, specialist one-to-one help for gambling addiction has been targeted only at people aged 16 years and over and has only been accessible in London clinics. The National Problem Gambling Clinic in London will be the first to now offer specialist help targeted at children and young people aged 13 to 25 years.

The plan is to also intensify treatment for gambling addiction in adults, with 14 new NHS clinics being opened across the UK.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s National Director for Mental Health, said: ‘This has the potential to be a major turning point and it is all about making sure the NHS does everything it can to help people of all ages, who are seriously addicted to gambling. There is already a big push to transform mental health services across the board for children and young people and the specific focus on gambling related addiction is the logical next step, particularly given the explosion of online gambling.’

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