Harmful Gambling and Poor Mental Health in New Zealand

“I’d never been to counselling before and felt it was a very special and healing experience.”

Tāngata Whaiora/Client Feedback

Harmful gambling is a significant social issue in New Zealand, disproportionately impacting Māori, Pasifika and Asian communities.

Studies have shown a strong correlation between harmful gambling and poor mental health. People with gambling problems are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, and studies also identify a link between suicidal thoughts and pathological gambling.

There is still significant stigma attached to harmful gambling and this discourages help-seeking behaviour.

At PGF Group, our mission is: Enhancing the mana of individuals, families and communities: to be free from gambling harm.

We deliver treatment and public health services nationwide and have a skilled and diverse workforce.

Our public health work supports the prevention and minimisation of gambling harm and promotes wellbeing.

Community action is a strong protective factor and is key to driving change that will protect vulnerable families and communities. Our work has a public health focus that is predominantly education and information to enable action at the community level. The public health focus, consistent with the mission, includes co-existing problems such as family violence and mental health.Harmful Gambling and Poor Mental Health in New Zealand

A key component of our work is advocating for policy and regulatory change to reduce gambling harm. We monitor the international and local gambling environment, particularly in the continually evolving world of online gambling.

We work to understand the impact of harms on families and communities, so we are able to support decision-makers to recognise where there may be inequity.

PGF Services provide free counselling, advice and support to anyone impacted by gambling, and works to ensure that support for Māori clients fits a kaupapa Māori way of working. A dedicated health promotion team work in the community to raise awareness of gambling harm.

Duty counsellors are available by phone or email between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday to answer questions and provide immediate support.

PGF Group specialist teams provide culturally and linguistically appropriate support to Asian and Pasifika communities living in New Zealand.

Asian Family Services provide free, professional and confidential counselling, information and support in several languages for anyone impacted by harmful gambling.  All staff are trained counsellors, social workers and health promoters. A nationwide helpline is also provided.

Asian Wellbeing Services is part of Asian Family Services, providing fee paid psychological services including support with family and couple relationships, cultural adjustment, grief and loss, and stress management.

Mapu Maia Pasifika Services provide a holistic, family-centred service which is free and confidential, delivered by experienced and qualified staff that can support people in English, Samoan, Tokelauan and Tongan. Through Talatalanoa, the team provide counselling that encompasses a person’s whole self – physical, mental, spiritual and the family. Their Pacific values underpin the service provided to clients, engagement with external stakeholders and how they work with each other. Because harmful gambling rarely exists in isolation, Mapu Maia include alcohol and drug addictions, family violence and other co-existing mental health issues.