World Social Psychiatry

LETTER TO EDITOR
Year
: 2022  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 46--47

The Need to Improve Resources for the Prevention and Treatment of Gambling-Related Mental Health Issues in Italy


Chidiebere Emmanuel Okechukwu 
 Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Chidiebere Emmanuel Okechukwu
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro Rome, Rome
Italy




How to cite this article:
Okechukwu CE. The Need to Improve Resources for the Prevention and Treatment of Gambling-Related Mental Health Issues in Italy.World Soc Psychiatry 2022;4:46-47


How to cite this URL:
Okechukwu CE. The Need to Improve Resources for the Prevention and Treatment of Gambling-Related Mental Health Issues in Italy. World Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 27 ];4:46-47
Available from: https://www.worldsocpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2022/4/1/46/344119


Full Text



The prevalence of recurrent problematic gambling behavior, which causes significant psychological distress in an individual, is a critical public health issue in Italy. As a result, the Italian parliament, on August 11, 2018, published a law called “Dignity Decree” which prohibited advertising for services and products related to all forms of gambling within the Italian territory with the aim of controlling problem gambling (PG) in Italy. Problem gamblers in Italy are mostly unemployed citizens who pay so much attention to online gaming, sports betting, video poker, and electronic slots. Some Italian researchers analyzed gambling behavior and cravings among patients with gambling disorder (GD) in Italy during the coronavirus disease 2019 lockdown, and they compared the symptoms of GD at the beginning of the treatment and during the lockdown. The outcome of their study showed that most patients with GD who were treated had significant improvements in their wellbeing, quality of life, and fewer cravings for gambling.[1] According to the outcomes of the 2019 and 2020, gambling adult population survey sampling epidemiological study conducted in the Italian regions of Abruzzo, Emilia Romagna, Marche, Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, and Friuli Venezia, there was a rising prevalence of PG among Italian adults residing in the regions.[2] Some young adults who gamble in the above-mentioned regions use psychoactive substances, and they do not have comprehensive knowledge of the health services available in their respective regions.[2]

A typical problem gambler in Italy is someone who shows symptoms of a behavioral addiction that includes regular and recurring episodes of gambling which dominate the activities of daily living and negatively affect morals and social obligations, employment, and family ties. Individuals with a gambling father or both parents who used to gamble are at greater risk of developing PG than those with nongambling parents in Italy.[3] The gambling habits of a parent or both parents have a strong impact on their offspring's behavior. This may be associated with decreased mental self-adjustment, environmental, and genetic factors. The synchronicity of problematic gambling behaviors in both parents certainly has a robust edifying influence that can increase the development of gambling behaviors in their children.[3] Perhaps due to the considerable pathological gambling patterns shown by Italian males, fathers who gamble have a greater impact on the gambling behaviors of their male children than mothers who gamble.[3] One study which included 31,984 participants in Italy aged 15–64 years in which PG was assessed using the PG severity index showed that 42.1% of the participants had gambled in the past year, and 33.8% were categorized as no-risk gamblers, 6.1% as lesser-risk gamblers, and 2.2% as problem gamblers, and they found that males (73.4%) were more likely to be problem gamblers than females (26.6%).[4] One study analyzed the data samples of 2000 participants in Italy, aged 18–74 years. They evaluated the prevalence of PG within the sample using both the South Oaks gambling screen for evaluating potential pathological gamblers and the PGSI for assessing PG.[5] The outcome of the study showed that potential pathological gamblers were mostly males, divorced, and had at least one parent with gambling problems.[5] In conclusion, there is a need to enhance the epidemiological surveillance of gambling problems and the associated mental health issues as well as the resources such as training and recruiting more gambling counselors, setting up a multilingual gambling helpline network, enhancing online therapy/tele-mental health support, designing gambling therapy apps, screening tools, and setting up more treatment facilities for the prevention and treatment of GD and co-occurring mental comorbidities in Italy. Moreover, tele-mental healthcare services should be included as part of the treatment plan for patients with GD.

Author contributions

CEO: Conceptualization, Methodology, Investigation, Qualitative analysis, Manuscript preparation and editing.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1Donati MA, Cabrini S, Capitanucci D, Primi C, Smaniotto R, Avanzi M, et al. Being a gambler during the COVID-19 pandemic: A study with Italian patients and the effects of reduced exposition. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021;18:E424.
2Gambling Adult Population Survey Sampling Epidemiological Study on the Prevalence of Social and Problem Gambling. Available from: https://www.epid.ifc.cnr.it/project/gaps/. [Last accessed on 2021 Jun 20].
3Cavalera C, Bastiani L, Gusmeroli P, Fiocchi A, Pagnini F, Molinari E, et al. Italian adult gambling behavior: At risk and problem gambler profiles. J Gambl Stud 2018;34:647-57.
4Bastiani L, Gori M, Colasante E, Siciliano V, Capitanucci D, Jarre P, et al. Complex factors and behaviors in the gambling population of Italy. J Gambl Stud 2013;29:1-13.
5Barbaranelli C, Vecchione M, Fida R, Podio-Guidugli S. Estimating the prevalence of adult problem gambling in Italy with SOGS and PGSI. J Gamb Stud 2013;28:1-24.