NHS England has announced the opening of a new gambling clinic for children and young people, as part of the Long Term Plan.
The news comes after a recent Gambling Comission report found that the number of children classed as having a gambling problem is 55,000, and that 450,000 are gambling regularly, more than those who have taken drugs, drunk alcohol or smoked.
Problem gambling is allegedly being fuelled by online gaming sites and targeted adverts, NHS England say.
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health said that the clinics have the potential to be a “major turning point”, with Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive adding that “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.
“This action shows just how seriously the NHS takes the threat of gambling addiction, even in young people, but we need to be clear – tackling mental ill health caused by addiction is everyone’s responsibility – especially those firms that directly contribute to the problem.”
In a release, NHS England explained that once referred to a clinic, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists will work with patients who could have a range of complex gambling related difficulties, including a lengthy period of problem gambling with little or no abstinence and mental health difficulties, compulsive behaviours, risk of self-harm or substance misuse.
Up to 14 new NHS clinics are being opened – starting with the NHS Northern Gambling Service in Leeds this summer, followed by Manchester and Sunderland.
The National Problem Gambling Clinic in London will also offer specialist help for children and young people aged 13 to 25 as part of an expansion which will also ramp up treatment for adults.