Although most student services are short on time and funding, they can still find ways to do prevention work with students about problem gambling. Here are four low-cost programming strategies:
1) Integrate gambling prevention with other prevention work.
Place material about problem-gambling among material about other student problems, such as alcohol abuse or debt. Print brochures, for example, can be made available where other health and prevention information is available. Seeing information about problem gambling among information about other risky behaviors sends the signal that problem gambling is on similar importance.
In fact, risky behaviors such as problem gambling, alcohol overconsumption, and tobacco use are correlated, so discussions about problem gambling can easily be tied into other discussions about personal and public health.
2) Use the resources that state and national organizations already make available.
Most states have a problem-gambling coalition or alliance that will share educational materials as well as provide speakers who can visit campus. Visit the National Council on Problem Gambling to find your state’s program.
3) Partner with campus departments.
You might form alliances with the following departments:
- Financial aid: Staff can ask students coming in for an emergency loan if gambling is causing financial problems.
- Counseling: Problem gambling can be masked by depression or other mental health issues. As a result, the counseling intake process—both the forms and the initial talk with a counselor—should include questions about whether the student is concerned about gambling.
- Athletics: Your institution’s athletic department is likely to be very knowledgeable about the issue and already providing some sort of student education due to the NCAA rules.
- The student health center: Most center nurses are already trained to look for warning signs of mental health or substance abuse issues. Because problem gambling often correlates with these issues, nurses can be among the first people on campus to spot a gambling problem.
4) Take advantage of National Gambling Awareness Week.
The annual National Gambling Awareness Week is strategically placed between the Super Bowl and the March Madness basketball tournaments, so it occurs at a time when gambling is already on many people’s minds. Several promotional tools (such as public service announcements, fact sheets, and press releases) are available at no cost through the awareness week’s website.