Ministry of Health addresses mental illnesses due to gaming addiction

Ministry of Health addresses mental illnesses due to gaming addiction

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Ministry of Health is doing its part to assist those suffering from mental illnesses as a result of gaming addiction.

This revelation coming on Monday from Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands.

“Gaming is here to stay, at least for the time being in The Bahamas,” the minister said. “We have had to modify our approach to incorporate the management of this new ailment into our mental health program.”

Dr. Sands was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of The Problem Gaming and Addiction Seminar, held yesterday at the Public Hospitals Authority.

Dr. Sands told reporters that studies have shown that a generous percentage of gamers have a serious issue when it comes to regulating their gaming.

“They spend their mortgage, they spend their children’s school fees, grocery money, etc. on gambling,” he said.

“It is a serious mental illness and it is impacting the quality of life of, not only the people but their families [and] their kids.”

According to Bahamas Gaming Operators Association CEO, Gershan Major, about one million dollars was allocated to address gaming addiction. He admitted, however, that when the new gaming tax was implemented last year, they had to refocus this allocation.

“Now that the [gaming tax] matter is settled, we are back to 2019 with the new budget being currently revisited,” Major said. “So, I won’t be able to give you a specific number, but it’ll be somewhere [around] that [one million] or a bit more.”

He added that the budget’s main purpose is to educate the public, but to also, “create awareness, find opportunities to build capacity with our partners at Sandilands Rehabilitation, Public Hospital Authority the Grand Bahama Health services, as well as create an area for treatment counselling and support for persons who are most at risk or find themselves or their family members challenged.”

Major also revealed that five professionals in the field were recently certified internationally to address gambling disorders.

These persons, he said, will now be able to assist Sandilands with well-needed capacity building in the areas of screening, diagnosis and treating persons with gambling addictions.