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Pandemic impacts on problem gambling treatment providers
During the Covid-19 pandemic, online gambling venues remained accessible while treatment
services were met with constraints. Mental health service providers needed to adapt quickly
to continue supporting clients. This study examined how services for people who have gambling
and other mental health problems adapted treatment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Counsellors from two provinces in Canada were surveyed using closed- and open-ended
questions. The study was conducted in two waves, one in May to July 2021 in the middle
of the pandemic, and the second from April to June 2022 as many public health restrictions
were being removed and casinos reopened. Questions included how counsellors adapted their
practice during the pandemic and what training they felt they required to help them deliver
safe and effective treatment during a pandemic. The results indicated increases in counsellor
distress during the pandemic. The counsellors also reported increased stress in their clients.
The participants reported a shift towards phone and online treatment during the pandemic.
The counsellors in this study had concerns over technological issues, privacy issues and
problems with keeping clients engaged. There were also concerns regarding populations who
do not have access to remote treatment methods and vulnerable populations such as seniors,
Indigenous groups, and people who have serious dual diagnoses. There is a need for future
preparation in mental health treatment protocols to mitigate shortfalls in remote client care.