By Mark Lynch
A new free gambling addiction counselling service has come to Galway thanks to Helplink Mental Health and the Gambling Awareness Trust.
Helplink Mental Health – a registered charity, providing accessible services locally in the West of Ireland, nationally and internationally, has now joined forces with the Gambling Awareness Trust to provide a national gambling addiction/gambling dependency counselling service; that is available for free; 7 days a week and out-of-hours.
The service was officially launched in Galway at the Portershed with Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard on Tuesday 25 February, with the Students’ Union Welfare Officers from both NUI Galway and GMIT present. It will provide the counselling service to anyone aged over 16 years old with a gambling problem/issue/addiction and their family members who may be affected by their loved ones’ gambling. However, Helplink must have written permission (by email) for 16–18–year olds parent or guardian before the appointments can begin.
Helplink‘s vision is to be Ireland’s leading provider of accessible, free or low-cost mental health services locally in the West of Ireland, nationally and internationally. The three types of services that Helplink provides are: Counselling, Information Provision and Education.
CEO of Helplink, Lochlainn Scott, explains how important it is for them to expand their service to people in need. “In addition to our national general, youth and couples counselling services, available online at low costs, we also provide an addiction counselling service nationally. However, it wasn’t until we partnered with the Gambling Awareness Trust that we were able to start providing gambling addiction counselling for free! This is huge for us and our clients because of our main aims is take down barriers for engaging with counselling – finance is one of those barriers”. He continued, “by providing our services 7 days a week and out-of-hours and also providing these services online so people can get their support at home or in other private settings”.
A 2015 study of the UK gambling industry reported that approximately 30-35% of the gambling industry’s revenues come from those who have gambling issues. Helplink says that the move to online gambling also makes it more difficult to monitor the behavioural activities of a loved one. According to the Rutland Centre in 2008, there were 1,365 betting shops in Ireland, which reduced to 948 in 2015. Paddy Power reports that 77% of its profits comes from the online side of the industry.
People can make appointments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 0818998880 between the hours of 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday and 12 to 6 on the weekends. More information on this and Helplink’s other services are also available on their website www.helplink.ie. Helplink do not provide a crisis service and recommend that people who are seriously contemplating suicide or in need of immediate help should go to their local A&E or dial 999.