To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to help professional sports-persons avoid or lose their addiction to gambling and alcohol.
The mental health of professional and elite sportspeople is a matter of importance to government. As set out in the government’s sport strategy Sporting Future, Baroness Grey-Thompson was tasked to carry out a review of the duty of care sport owes to its participants. That report was published earlier this year and covered a number of important issues including mental health. We are considering the review’s findings and recently hosted two roundtable meetings involving sportspeople and people from mental health and sport organisations to explore how sport could improve its offer of mental health support for elite and professional sportspeople.
Professional players' associations (such as the Professional Footballers' Association or Professional Cricketers' Association) are well placed to raise awareness amongst their members about gambling and alcohol addiction, and to provide support to those that need it. Organisations like the Sporting Chance Clinic are also available to provide support to current and former sportspeople with emotional welfare and addictive disorders.
People with alcohol or gambling problems can also access services in primary care and secondary care, including specialised mental health and addiction services. Any decisions on the commissioning of effective treatment services are the responsibility of local authorities based on an assessment of local need.
A range of services available to problem gamblers and support for those with problems with alcohol can be found on the NHS Choices website.