Imagine you have a problem that is taking over your life. You’re having trouble concentrating, you don’t sleep well and you don’t know what to do about it … it’s damaging your mental and physical health. Even worse, imagine that you think this problem something to be ashamed of, something you think other people would judge you about. You feel alone and isolated, even among friends and family.
This is too often the scenario for immigrant and refugee women and men experiencing gambling addiction and gambling related problems. Research suggests that overall, gambling is less common among immigrant communities in Australia than in the general population. However, gambling does affect some sections of the population and, interestingly, immigrant and refugee communities are more vulnerable to gambling-related harm. The stigma and shame attached to gambling prevents many immigrant and refugee women from seeking out support and if they do, there is a lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate support services.
But now imagine talking to others who are experiencing similar issues in a group setting, where everyone is treated with respect, and where judgement is checked at the door.
As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved, and this is no truer than when it comes to peer support groups. A dwindling bank balance, relationship breakdowns and declining mental and physical health are some of the issues that can be better faced when you have support and understanding. With the support and encouragement of others who understand your experience, you can analyse problems and develop coping strategies for day-to-day life.
It should come as no surprise that in-language peer support groups are a particularly effective way of tackling gambling related problems. Communicating in one’s preferred language is a practical form of support which makes a significant impact. You have a better chance of being understood by someone who not only shares your struggles with gambling, but also shares similar life experiences. However when dealing with issues that people feel afraid to speak about with family or friends, peer support groups provide the support of community without the judgement that can sometimes come with it.
Empathy, equality and confidentiality are at the core of peer support services. Unlike other personal relationships, peer support groups are bound by ethical codes of conduct. Those close to you may struggle in their concern for you to maintain confidentiality, be non-judgmental, or to create a supportive environment when you need them to. That’s what peer support programs are for.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a gambling-related problem, why not let them know about MCWH’s 10 week peer support program for immigrant and refugee women. See our Project Page for further information.