Gambling problems can be compounded in BIPOC communities

To the Editor:

July is Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month. This observance is meant to bring awareness to the unique challenges that racial, ethnic, and sexual marginalized communities face regarding mental illness in the United States.

Studies show that these underserved communities display higher levels of anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other mental health disorders. Society’s deep-rooted prejudice toward these groups is a major cause of feelings of rejection, estrangement, and harassment. Barriers to care include equitable access to care, cultural stigma, and lower quality care all can also play a part in affecting the experiences of underserved communities in the US.

What’s the connection with gambling?

Mental Health and gambling go hand in hand. Gambling can cause anxiety, depression, stress, and low self-esteem.

Just like with mental health, there is a stigma when it comes to gambling. People who are experiencing problems due to their gambling often have a large amount of shame as well as fear about the amount of debt they have. It can be difficult to reach out for help as they often feel alone and isolated.

The shame and stigma associated with gambling problems can be further compounded within BIPOC communities. This can be because of a distrust of the medical system, or lack of services for those who are undocumented. In addition, treatment options can be limited for those in underserved communities as service availability may not be equitable, culturally specific or in a client’s native language.

Just like with mental health services, these communities are underserved when it comes to problem gambling support. It is important to continue to have these conversations and advocate for resources for those who are part of these populations. Reach out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center to identify what resources are currently available, what is missing, and to work in collaboration so that we can better serve our communities.

If you or someone you love is exhibiting warning signs such as being absent from friend/family events because of gambling; feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling; low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with gambling; or lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling, it may be time to reach out to the Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center. For more information or to get help call (585) 351-2622 or email FingerLakesPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org.

JEFFREY WIERZBICKI

Western/Finger Lakes Team Leader

Problem Gambling Resource Center

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