Governor Charlie Baker issued a citation recognizing Tuesday, March 8, 2022, as Gambling Disorder Screening Day in Massachusetts, praising the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance for its “tireless efforts to spread awareness about Gambling Disorder throughout the Commonwealth.” Gambling Disorder leads to financial, emotional, social, occupational, and physical harms. It is a treatable mental health condition, yet many cases go undetected and untreated. Failure to detect gambling harm is due, in part, to limited screening for this problem. The Division on Addiction encourages all organizations and providers to participate in this annual event.
“We join Governor Baker in commending the Division on Addiction for establishing Gambling Disorder Screening Day,” said Assaad Sayah, MD, CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance. “Like many other behavioral health conditions, Gambling Disorder disproportionately impacts minoritized communities. Bringing much-needed attention to the need for routine screening for Gambling Disorder, and improving access to treatment through statewide professional development activities, will help alleviate these disparities in line with CHA’s mission to provide care to the people.”
Gambling Disorder Screening Day is in its ninth year. This international event has grown to include screeners and supporters from Cambridge Health Alliance, Massachusetts and New England, the United States, and around the world. This year, Gambling Disorder Screening Day has over 50 confirmed supporters and event hosts. They range from college health centers, employee assistance and wellness programs, prevention-focused organizations, community-based mental health organizations, gambling operators, and academics and researchers. The Division on Addiction distributed 1,350 free pocket screening guides to 27 Screening Day hosts in 17 U.S. States.
Debi LaPlante, PhD, director of the Division on Addiction and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said, “We’re so proud that people have embraced Gambling Disorder Screening Day. What started as a small grassroots effort in 2014 has grown to an international event with more participants than we ever anticipated. We will continue to support this event for years to come and look forward to bringing more awareness to this issue. Our hope is that by helping people understand their own gambling, we’ll connect people to needed help and the path to recovery.”
Because of lack of awareness about the need for routine screening and persistent stigma against people experiencing Gambling Disorder and other expressions of addiction, rates of help seeking for Gambling Disorder are low. Routine gambling screening is especially helpful for individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorders and other mental health conditions, which commonly co-occur with Gambling Disorder.