About 14 years ago, Hannah* was feeling out of control, ashamed and embarrassed. Her gambling was affecting her whole life.
Now, she encourages others to reach out for help, after her own experiences of seeking support from Meli’s Gambler’s Help services.
Gambling Harm Awareness Week is on from 16-22 October. This week serves as an opportunity to talk about the harms associated with gambling and the effects they can have on communities, families, friends, workplaces and individuals.
It is also a week to focus on stories of recovery, to offer hope and optimism to those affected by gambling harm.
This year’s theme is Talk.Share.Support. which is all about having open conversations about gambling harm and highlight the benefits of speaking up.
Hannah was predominantly addicted to poker machines. She said it affected every aspect of her life, including her mental health and family relationships.
“I was absolutely out of control with my gambling and my finances, and I felt like a shell of a person,” Hannah said.
“I was losing my soul.”
She remembered feeling nervous about reaching out to Meli (known as Bethany Community Support at the time) for help, but soon realised it was one of the best things she could have done.
“I never felt judged,” she said. “I just felt supported.”
Hannah was 30 at the time she first reached out for support for her gambling. Last financial year, 28.2 per cent of Meli’s clients accessing Gambler’s Help services were under the age of 34.
After meeting with a financial counsellor, Hannah was able to start to manage her finances.
She said she learnt strategies to make wise decisions with her money, keeping accountable to her financial responsibilities and was linked in with counselling.
Hannah eventually was approved for the State Trustee’s financial administration service. She said Meli helped her every step of the way navigating the process, including attending meetings and court proceedings.
She now feels secure in the fact her bills will be paid on time and she can manage her finances and gambling urges.
“I’ve had quite a good stretch for a couple of years, gambling is not really a massive part of my life anymore,” she said.
“I’ve been able to re-engage (with Meli) every time I’ve had a lapse with my gambling. It’s always been a simple process to re-engage.
Hannah urged anyone who felt their gambling was affecting them to contact Meli.
“The support is there,” she said.
“Just reach out because gambling is soul destroying and you lose yourself along the way.
“And if you keep going down that path you can lose your life to it.”
If gambling harm affects you or someone you know, call Meli on (03) 5278 8122 or call Gambler’s Help (24/7) on 1800 858 858.
*Name changed to protect privacy