EPIC Risk Management has formed a tripartite partnership with addiction and mental health practitioner WHYSUP and mental health training organisation Teen Tips to launch its Gambling Harm Education Programme in UK schools.
The programme will be delivered to UK pupils aged 15-18 at across 200 state secondary schools and colleges throughout the UK during the 2021-22 academic year, whilst the organisation will cooperate with independent schools on a privately funded basis.
EPIC has expressed concern at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online gambling participation levels among young people, and the impact this can have on their mental wellbeing, with around 500,000 children aged 11 to 15 thought to gamble every week whilst 87% of those in younger demographics play online games daily.
“The workshops we deliver to this sector are crucial in educating young people on the damage that gambling and gaming can cause because despite being a vulnerable demographic, most are oblivious to the potential consequences of their actions,” said EPIC’s Director of UK and Rest of the World, Patrick Foster.
“Our work with young people continues to be the most important work that we do, and always will be. Bringing in the expertise of WHYSUP, who have lived the desperation of gambling harm and other addictions first-hand, and Teen Tips, who are already working in a high number of UK schools and having a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of young people, is a powerful combination.”
The training sessions will be conducted with the aim of increasing awareness of gambling related harm and identifying and mitigating the risks of betting, covering subjects such as advertising, differing product risk profiles, support pathways and how pupils can identify signs of harm in both themselves and among classmates.
These sessions will be ‘continuously adapted’ to keep to pace with the ‘ever changing nature of potential threats to young people’, including cryptocurrency trading, live developments in esports and gaming issues such as loot boxes, with the latter topic having been repeatedly highlighted by a number of responsible gambling groups over the course of the past year.
“The education of our next generation is crucial and EPIC have now worked directly with over 100,000 children aged 14+ directly since 2018,” said Paul Buck, Founder and CEO of EPIC Risk Management.
“Sharing lived experience, in a professional and engaging manner, is the best way to raise awareness to the next generation of the potential harms of gambling, gaming and new threats such as cryptocurrency and esports.”
He added: “There is an undisputed link between mental health and addiction, so it makes perfect sense for us to provide a rounded offering explaining how the various elements affect one another.
“We are proud to partner with WHYSUP and Teen Tips to ensure that our education is holistic, covers a wider curriculum and raises awareness of the dangers rather than place all the responsibility at the individual’s door. Our programme will be fully, and independently, evaluated.”