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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Watch: A digital animation to inspire hope and help-seeking for problem gambling

CAMH’s Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario (PGIO) is sharing today the newest addition to their online tools—an animation to inspire hope and courage in someone experiencing negative impacts of gambling.

Problem Gambling video screenshot
“We’re funded to support the needs of individuals, families and professionals across Ontario”, explains Sylvia Hagopian who manages communications and online services for CAMH PGIO.  “It was important that we find a compelling and visually interesting way to spread the message that counselling and online tools for gambling problems are available, free, confidential and also available to family members and friends.”

About 2.5 per cent of Ontarians have moderate to severe gambling problems and the vast majority do not access treatment.

People with gambling problems experience a range of harms, including mental health issues like depression, anxiety and substance use. People who gamble are also at increased risk of suicide; a significantly higher proportion of people with gambling problems report having thoughts of suicide in their lifetime compared to the general population.

“We started with a script, and then interviewed our PGIO therapists for visual metaphors that clients often shared before and after seeking help for their gambling”, says Sylvia. 

A few powerful themes emerged from interviews about the positive impacts of counselling for problem gambling;

  • an arm reaching out and being pulled out of quick sand,
  • surfacing from deep cold water for a breath of fresh air,
  • treading water, trying to keep head above it (debt, secrecy, depression weighing me down) and then finally reaching the shore and  taking a breath
  • waking up from a recurring nightmare and feeling relief


These powerful metaphors reflect the experience of having a problem with gambling and what it is like to move to a place of recovery.

Problem Gambling video screenshot
“We encourage people to share this video, embed it on their web sites and social media channels and help us spread the word that there is help available for individuals or concerned significant others --to heal family relationships, handle gambling urges and get life back in balance,” explains Sylvia.

Canadian company Giant Ant Creative Studio worked on this project for CAMH’s Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario. The video was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

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