75 years ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was first established, with a vision of promoting health, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable. Today, on World Health Day 2023, we have the opportunity to not only reflect on, and celebrate, the public health successes that WHO has influenced during this time, but also to inspire change and drive actions to tackle current and emerging health challenges.
One of those immediate challenges is the increasing impact that gambling harms is having on people’s health and wellbeing. The Faculty of Public Health of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK issued a gambling policy statement in 2018, which recognised that harm from gambling can be found at the individual, social and community levels making it, by definition, a public health issue.
Gambling is often associated with stress, depression and alcohol / substance misuse, whilst societal impacts can include fraud, theft and loss of productivity in the workplace. All of these have associated financial implications as well, such as increased costs in treating the addiction itself and any related mental health issues.
The theme for World Health Day 2023 is Health for All, and a public health approach similarly aims to improve quality of life for all and achieve health equity. Gambling harms are far from equitable in terms of how they impact people – those who are economically inactive, and living in deprived areas, suffer the most harms.
Shifting the paradigm from an individual approach to a public health approach is essential to ensuring that gambling harms are treated as seriously as any other form of addiction, both within the healthcare sector and in wider society.
Employers who place their people at the heart of their culture and strategy can really make a big difference by taking just a few simple steps:
· Implementing a dedicated gambling policy that is supportive, not punitive. If employees know that their job isn’t at risk, they are much more likely to come forward and seek support.
· Providing access to signposting information so that employees know exactly which organisations they can turn to if they need support with their own, or someone else’s, gambling.
· Increasing company-wide knowledge and understanding of what behaviours people may exhibit in the workplace if they are experiencing gambling harms, and how to conduct difficult conversations with people who are at risk.
Betknowmore UK has been working hard to raise awareness and provide support to people who may be struggling with gambling harms, leveraging an holistic approach that includes evidence-based practice underpinned by lived experience. Our Worksafe programme has been specifically created to help employers to have a better understanding of how gambling harms can impact their people and their business, and includes free resources, signposting information and a wide range of training and consultancy options tailored towards the organisation’s specific requirements.
You can find out more on our website: worksafetraining.org or by connecting with me via LinkedIn. But most importantly, you can share this post using the hashtags #HealthForAll, #WHO75, #gamblingharms, #workplacewellbeing, #publichealth.