The Intersection of Mental Health and Gambling: Dr. Anastasia Hronis on Responsible Gaming

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In a recent episode of “The No Line Podcast,” hosted by Philip Beere, Dr. Anastasia Hronis, a distinguished psychologist from Sydney, Australia, shared her insights on responsible gaming. The conversation unfolded at the Gambling Risk-Taking Conference in Las Vegas, where Dr. Hronis discussed her multifaceted career spanning clinical practice, research, and academia at the University of Technology in Sydney.

Dr. Hronis’s research, primarily focused on mental health issues such as mood disorders, anxiety, and depression, eventually led her to delve into the realm of responsible gambling. She expressed a strong interest in early intervention strategies aimed at preventing the development of mental health difficulties and addiction problems, including gambling. Dr. Hronis emphasized the need for more research in the field of gambling addiction, noting that while some treatments like cognitive behavior therapy have shown effectiveness, there’s still a considerable gap in knowledge compared to other addictions such as alcohol or drug use.

A significant part of the discussion revolved around the challenges in treating gambling addiction and the effects of gambling on mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Dr. Hronis highlighted the importance of determining the right approach to treatment, whether addressing the mental health issue or the gambling behavior first. She also spoke about identifying at-risk individuals early on, before they develop a diagnosable gambling problem.

Throughout the interview, Dr. Hronis shared observations from her first visit to Las Vegas. She expressed surprise at the accessibility of gambling venues and the presence of children in these environments, which could potentially glamorize gambling. Drawing parallels with Australia’s sports betting culture, she underscored the vulnerability of certain demographic groups, including culturally and linguistically diverse communities, young males, and indigenous populations.

The podcast also touched upon the highlights of the Gambling and Risk-Taking Conference. Dr. Hronis shared her “aha” moment, which came from a presentation emphasizing the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration in public health messaging around responsible gambling. She underscored the value of learning from diverse perspectives and experiences to create more effective intervention strategies.

In conclusion, Dr. Hronis called for increased investment in research and efforts to assist those struggling with gambling problems and to prevent others from reaching that point. She encouraged interested individuals to engage with the field, either through attending conferences or through academic and professional channels. Her contact information was made available for those wishing to connect further on these topics.

This insightful interview with Dr. Hronis underscores the complex interplay between gambling, mental health, and public health, highlighting the need for a more nuanced understanding and approach to responsible gaming.

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