A new national counselling service for people with a gambling addiction was launched in Galway city this week.
Helplink Mental Health, a registered charity, has joined with the Gambling Awareness Trust to provide a free gambling addiction counselling service for people aged 16 years and over.
The new service was launched by Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard at the Portershed on Monday.
It will provide free counselling seven days a week and out of hours. And while it is open to anyone over 16, people under the age of 18 will require written permission from a parent or guardian to make use of it.
Each client is assigned a minimum of six free appointments in a 12-month period. If your Counsellor feels you may need more and you are in agreement, then they can allot a further three or six free appointments.
Studies of the gambling industry have found that 30-35% of the industry’s revenue comes from people who have some level of addiction.
This has been further exacerbated by the rise of online gambling, which makes it harder to tell when someone has a problem.
According to the Ruthland Centre the number of betting shops in Ireland dropped from 1,365 in 2008 to 948 in 2015.
Bookies Paddy Power have reported that 77% of their income now comes from the online side of the business.
Lochlann Scott, CEO of Helplink said that for more than seven years they have been providing counselling services in the west of Ireland, nationally, and to Irish people around the world which includes addiction counselling.
“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 explained.
Lochlann continues to explain that lack of accessible services are often another barrier and that Helplink overcomes this by “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”.
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.
Opening hours, for this and its other counselling services, are from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 12 to 6pm Saturday and Sunday (Closed on Bank Holidays and Christmas/New Year’s Eve).
The service is available through online counselling (like Skype but more secure) or by phone nationwide.
Contact by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to 0818 998880 to arrange an appointment.
To get more information go to their website helplink.ie.