Skip to main content
BigDeal
Gambling information, advice and support for young people

About

Gambling

This is where you can find out more about gambling – what it is, how it works, the risks, and what to do if you are worried about your own gambling or the gambling of someone close to you.

What is mental health?

Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing, it is just as important to look after as our physical health. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. When our mental health is good, we enjoy being around other people and taking on challenges and new experiences. When our mental health is not so good, we find it harder to cope. If negative thoughts and feelings start to affect your daily life, you may need some support with your mental health.

Did you know?

1 in 10 children in the UK experience mental health problems. (Source: Action for Children)

What has gambling got to do with mental health?

Gambling is associated with mental health in different ways. To start with, some young people gamble to escape from problems or bad feelings. Almost one in five (18%) of 11-16 year olds in a recent Young People and Gambling Survey said that they would be more likely to gamble if they were worrying about something. As well as this, if gambling gets out of hand it can have serious effects on mental health, causing stress, anxiety and depression. Another issue is that young people with existing mental health concerns are more at risk of harmful gambling.

Anxiety and depression – what are they?

When gambling gets out of control it can cause anxiety and depression, which are two of the most common mental health concerns. Although a lot of people gamble to escape feelings of depression or other mental health problems, gambling can actually make these conditions worse. Young people’s mental health charity YoungMinds explains more about anxiety and depression:

Anxiety Most of us worry sometimes – about things like friendships or money – and feel anxious when we’re under stress, like at exam time. But afterwards we usually calm down and feel better. But when you’re not in a stressful situation, and you still feel worried or panicky, that’s when anxiety can become a problem. Read more about anxiety here.

Depression We all feel low or down at times, but if your negative emotions last a long time or feel very severe, you may have depression. Depression is a mood disorder where you feel very down all the time. Depression can happen as a reaction to something like abuse, bullying or family breakdown, but it can also run in families. Read more about depression here.

Real story

Matt’s story

“Gambling was something to do”

“I did have a few close friends express concern, they thought that I was gambling a bit too much and asked if I thought I might be addicted. I remember almost laughing it off with them and saying that I was fully in control”

Signs that gambling could be affecting your mental health

While gambling occasionally may not cause issues, if gambling escalates it can be harmful to your mental health. Have you experienced any of these feelings due to gambling?

  • You feel stressed, anxious or depressed
  • You feel isolated, ashamed or guilty
  • You’re not sleeping or eating well
  • You’ve started drinking alcohol or taking drugs, or doing this more often
  • You’re not making an effort with friends or family
  • You can’t be bothered to go out, do activities or see people

If you have answered yes to any of these, we can help. Our Young People Service is understanding and non-judgemental about gambling: the focus is on getting you to a place where you feel better about yourself. You can also find mental health information and support at the children and young people’s charity YoungMinds.

Worried

about someone close to you?

If someone close to you (this might be a family member or friend) is gambling too much, it can affect your mental health, school work and life at home.

Want to know more about gambling?
Check out some other topics: