Jessica’s Story: culture and gambling problems – Part 2

Jessica's StoryThe idea of seeking any form of assistance in many immigrant communities is often considered taboo. The issues of stigma and ‘saving face’ means that rather than seeking professional help these people with gambling problems often turn to family or close friends for help. This can be a problem for many who do not have a supportive community (Feldman, S. et al 2014).

In this Blog Jessica describes how having a parent who was suffering from a problem with gambling affected her.

Jessica talks about the shame and stigma of seeking help for gambling problems in her community;

It was horrible.  I felt really depressed, really stressed, and really alone, because I’m an only child. There’s a huge stigma, because Chinese culture is very proud. So nobody knew, and it was always bottled up. So my Mum was depressed and got referred to a counsellor, but she never revealed anything because it was so shameful.

Jessica admitted that support for those with mental health issues in Australia is good and describes how she found her for her father:

 Yes. Mental health awareness is really good in Australia. There are people and organisations you can talk to like Black Dog and Kids Helpline. And my school always educated us that it’s OK to seek help. So I went online and found Gambling Help and I referred my Dad to a counsellor.

Jessica’s father was initially reluctant but realised he need professional help:

He didn’t really want to go. But there was a time when he was absolutely devastated at how much he lost, so he did eventually go. He realised he needed help.

Jessica feels comfortable to talk about gambling with her immediate family. However, in many other families in her community the topic of gambling problems is seen as shameful:

Yes, as a family we are able to open up. But it doesn’t happen with people outside our family. I think it’s just because of the shame associated with it. I have a friend whose parents are both pathological gamblers. He can’t live with his parents anymore. It’s quite serious and a lot of people look down on their family.  They see them as irresponsible parents and bad people.

It is important to seek professional help when you have a gambling problem as counsellors can help you to address the underlying issues related to your problem gambling behaviours.

You can call:

Multicultural Problem Gambling Program for Chinese Communities

1800 856 800 or 9912 3851, Monday to Friday, 8.30am-5pm

Northern Sydney Local Health District Multicultural Gambling Service – Chinese

02 9477 9567, 8.30am – 5pm

Gambling Helpline

1800 858 858, 24 hours, 7 days a week


Feldman, S., Radermacher, R., Anderson, C. & Dickins, M. (2014). A qualitative investigation of the experiences, attitudes and beliefs about gambling in the Chinese and Tamil communities in Victoria, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. February 2014.

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