RGAW 2018 - Check in with a mate
During Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, people are invited to check in with workmates about their gambling.
"I remember going to the pub pretty much every night after work with the boys and the boss, losing hundreds—getting annihilated—then expected to be on the tools the next day at 7am no matter what condition I was in." Former apprentice plumber and gambling addict.
There is a growing culture among Central Coast tradies that is rarely ever mentioned. Young men are getting up before dawn, commuting to Sydney or Newcastle, working long hours doing back-breaking physical work, and spending more and more of their down time in the pub. A social drink to unwind, a slap on the pokies and a punt on the races is all harmless fun… Until it isn’t.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australian men aged 15 to 44. Suicide rates among young tradies are 2.3 times higher than for other men, indeed a construction worker is approximately 10 times more likely to take his own life than die in a workplace accident. Those in the industry know it happens but no one talks about it: indeed the masculine, macho tradie culture makes blokes afraid to talk about anything for fear of being judged or seen as being weak.
Even less spoken about is the growing trend of young men turning to gambling as a way to cope with their problems. Problem gamblers are significantly more likely to be male aged 18-35. One-third of the guys who play pokies once a week will develop a gambling problem. Gambling ads are also specifically targeting the young male demographic and normalising betting as part of Australia's 'mateship' culture.
Young apprentices want to appear as the tough, unflinching and unemotional bloke who loves being with his mates and can drink like a sailor and gamble like a king. So he heads off to the pub at lunch time or after work and drinks and gambles along with the lads. And when he’s feeling the pinch, he keeps it to himself. But when his days are spent digging a hole on a building site, or painting a wall, his mind fills with dark thoughts. The thousands he lost last night. The fight with his girlfriend. The time he’s not spending with his kids. The bills he can't pay...
It's time Aussie blokes started the conversation.
Men get a lot of support and connection by spending time with their mates. It's so important to check-in on a mate if you notice they are not going so well.
Simply starting a conversation and acknowledging changes you've noticed, may be all it takes to help somebody feel less alone, more connected and more able to cope. You could save thier life.
How to start the conversation
Be aware that the person you are concerned about may brush you off the first time you try to talk to them and it may take several conversations before they feel safe to open up. You can't 'fix' someone's problems, but you can definitely help.
Talk - Lock in a time to catch up, or give them a call. Blokes often talk more openly when they're doing stuff together, shoulder-to-shoulder so go play golf or go for a surf and have a chat.
Ask - Once you've covered the small stuff, ask how they're really going. Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like the signs of problem gambling.
- Regularly short of money even though they earn a good wage
- Repeatedly borrowing money
- Becoming withdrawn from others/missing social events
- Performance at work is being negtatively affected
- Seeming worried, agitated or upset for no apparent reason
- Using threats, lies or charm to manipulate others into lending money
- Spending more and more time gambling
- Continuing to gamble when eveyone else has left
- Being secretive about unexplained absences
- Often being late for commitments
- Taking an unusual amount of time for simple tasks (e.g. taking two hours to get milk at the shops).
Listen - Give them your time, be there and listen. Be patient, don't given them instructions or tell them what to do; You don't have to be their counsellor or have all the answers - just be there for them. Talking helps people to articulate their thoughts and feelings and gain insight into their problems.
Encourage action - if they need more advice and support, point them in the direction of professional help and resources such as the gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858, or this website.
Check in - Don't just leave it at one conversation, keep talking, check in regularly and ask them how they are going
Establishing and maintaining relationships, talking about the hard stuff in life and taking action when times are tough are proven ways for men stay mentally healthy and cope with the stress of everyday life. There are a number of resources and support services available for through Central Coast Gambling Help so please contact us if you would like assistance.