The state-run National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has reportedly announced plans to debut up to 14 clinics across England offering advice and support to children and young people suspected of suffering with an addiction to gambling.
According to a report from The Guardian, the initial treatment facility is due to premiere in London later in the year before being followed by similar undertakings for the northern cities of Leeds, Manchester and Sunderland. As part of a wider expansion of NHS services across England, these could later be joined by up to ten additional regional centers offering free treatment to those aged 13 to 25.
Due to be christened as National Problem Gambling Clinics, the facilities are reportedly being launched in response to rising concerns about the ever-increasing prevalence of problem gambling among young people in the United Kingdom. The Guardian cited a recent investigation from the Gambling Commission regulator as determining that the nation of some 67 million people has approximately 450,000 regular underage gamblers, which it purportedly determined is far more than have ever taken drugs, smoked or drunk alcohol, while some 55,000 of these are thought to have subsequently gone on to develop an addiction.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive for the NHS in England, reportedly told The Guardian that the gambling industry spends approximately £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) every year on advertising and marketing campaigns but is shelling out just a fraction of this amount on helping people deal with their addictions. He furthermore purportedly detailed that hundreds of thousands of people in England currently have a problem with gambling while up to a further two million may be at risk of developing a habit.
“This action shows just how seriously the NHS takes the threat of gambling addiction, even in young people. 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.”
While commending the move from the NHS, Mike Kenwood, Development Director for the GamCare problem gambling charity, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that additional education on problem gambling ‘is badly needed’ in the nation’s schools.
Kenwood reportedly told the BBC…
“In school you would have been more likely to receive education and awareness sessions around things like drugs and alcohol, safe sex, healthy eating in personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education lessons. There is a broader agenda that addresses all those things but gambling is missing from it.”