Gambling addiction affects people of any gender and any age and in any socioeconomic status. Gambling is a behaviour that involves a decision to eventually win a prize after many attempts of spending money that may belong to the gambler or not.
Gambling can be a form of impaired decision-making and can also a result from a negative life experience. Gambling addiction is now known as gambling disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5) under the non-substance behavioural addiction section. Symptoms need to result in clinical impairment of distress within the following 12 month period and include four or more of the criteria listed in the manual. The criteria includes but not limited to lies to hid the problem, feeling restless when trying to cut gambling and needing to gamble to increase money or achieve a desired level of excitement.
Some people gamble to express their anger, have a negative relationship with money as they were told money was more important than them or want a sense of belonging. Risk factors also include a lack of family cohesion, loneliness, financial hardship and using gambling to mitigate it, impulsive personality where there is a lack of self control to manage the urge, high sensation-seeking behaviour, and a lack of coping strategies to manage life challenges. Therefore, there are many complex factors to consider when helping someone with gambling addiction.
Coping strategies to manage problem gambling include counselling to work through past trauma, experimenting with healthy coping strategies, improving financial literacy to learn about and appreciate healthy money management including planning for your financial future, improving relationships around you to develop a healthy sense of belonging, improving what money means for you as well as facing your problems and working it out.
Mental accounting is a psychological framework that can be used to manage money. Mental accounting can be used physically by keeping seperate bank accounts, money jars, or mentally by thinking about the separate accounts. For example you may have one bank account but in your mind you plan to save 10% and the rest on incidental costs and bills.
Mental accounting also involves the opening of an account and closure and can help with money management as it is a form of self-control. You put money in and receive mental closure but spending it. You know how much is to go in a particular account and what for. It can also help you be aware of your finances as the money is contained in certain accounts.
Furthermore there are different schools of thought on how many accounts to hold your money. They range from three to six and include one for bills, one for holidays, one for an emergency, another for investment and another for giving to others such as charity. People use this practice to teach children about money management and for adults to improve self-control and manage debt. Mental accounting can also be used for investors or financial planners to compartmentalise money during diversification for an investment strategy such as placing money into Australian and international shares, property, cash and fixed interest, bonds and managed funds. It can also be used when investing in shares to assist with diversification further by splitting money into categories of a variety of companies such as utility, REITS, mining and healthcare.
Give mental accounting a go to help with money management and self-control.
There is a chance a person will have a mental illness or experience some from of distress. For example, one in five people will experience depression. However, people can learn a lot about themselves when they go through challenges. They may learn how to cope, what they need to do to cope and learn about their limitations. Therefore, challenges can be an opportunity to grow.
Resilience is about accepting failure and bouncing back by learning more about themselves while they go through the journey. They understand their strengths, limitations, people around them and may review what they want in life. Therefore, it requires the mind to be flexible and accept and adapt to change.
The Resilience Scale measures purposefulness, equanimity, self-reliance, perseverance and existential aloneness as these are important constructs that affect the level of resilience a person has. For example, a person who has purpose in their life is more likely to be resilient as they find meaning in every experience including challenges. Equanimity is about having balance which includes the good and bad in life and to see every experience as an opportunity to grow. People who are self-reliant understand their capabilities including limitations and strengths. Self-reliant people have confidence in themselves to persevere during the challenge which may include seeking help to work through their challenges. Self-reliant people will learn new problem solving skills and draw from previous problem solving skills to solve current challenges. Resilient people will persevere and keep going to work through the challenge and accept failure as a learning experience. Lastly, people who have existential aloneness realise that their path belongs to them and that some experiences belong to them on their own while others are shared. They also understand about uniqueness including unique experience and opportunities rather than comparing themselves to others.
Being resilient also requires time to be vulnerable and to be okay to fall apart. People may cry, scream and want to vent. However, it is not about staying in this mode for a very long time but seeking help to get another perspective on what they are going through so they can shift their mindset, make sense of the situation, learn from the experience and balance their emotions.
Learning experiences may include making better choices, learning who is really good for them, learning what they are really good at and what they want in life.
Superannuation & The Gender Gap
There has been considerable debate about the gender gap with superannuation where females are lagging behind males. This means that females will retire with considerably less superannuation than males. However factors such as financial literacy, values, age can influence why the gap occurs (De Zwaan, Brimble, & Stewart, 2015). Therefore, working with these factors may help mitigate the gender gap in superannuation.
For example, older individuals and those with a self managed super fund (SMSF) are more engaged in superannuation (De Zwaan et al., 2015). Financial literacy also plays a role as it will encourage the user to explore choices rather then the default option or their current one to receive a higher rate of return. It is also important to explore how well your fund has performed to compare options. The study conducted by De Zwaan, Brimble and Stewart (2015) found that females were less likely to understand the relationship between performance of the superannuation fund and risk and return.
It is also argued that women tend to spend less time in paid employment as they are usually the ones to stay at home while raising their children, earn less than men (also due to part-time work while raising children) and may have less financial literacy than their male partners or men in general as they may rely on them to manage the finances. The problem is exacerbated when separation occurs as even though superannuation may be split 50/50 there is the gap in financial literacy, getting back into the workforce after working as the stay at home mum which can result in lower income from starting at the bottom.
It is important to seek advice about superannuation, explore your options and think about your retirement early to ensure that you have sufficient funds to retire on. I also encourage a family discussion so each member in the family as well as teenagers can learn the importance of retirement planning and become more money wise.
De Zwaan, L., Brimble, M., & Stewart, J. (2015). ENGAGEMENT WITH SUPERANNUATION: Is there really a gender gap? JASSA, (4), 12–18. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1786577943/
The environment around children and young people can help improve social and emotional development. Children learn through their senses. From the age of 2, according to Piaget's Sensorimotor Stage, a child will learn with their senses being what they see, feel, hear, and taste. A garden or any other part of the environment can give these children an ability to learn through their senses within their natural surroundings. The environment can also teach the child about the cycle of life and outcomes achieved from growing a plants from seed or seedling, feeding it and enjoying the end result.
In todays environment, children and young people are often not given the opportunity to engage with the natural environment because of a busy lifestyle or living in a residence with hardly any green area. Even a trip to the local park can mean playing in the playground without any thought to the natural surroundings.
Take the time to teach your children the natural environment through their senses no matter what age. This activity can be learned when going for a walk or exploring your backyard if you have any greens in there. Children will learn the value of their environment, that caring for it is meaningful, and how to nurture if they have a chance to grow something.
Nature can help improve stress and increase empathy as the surroundings are calming and growing plants or even animals can teach a child now to nurture and care for others.
Behavioural finance is an important aspect to consider when learning about investment decision making and wealth management as it helps us understand the how bias can influence success and failures.
Financial crisis often has an impact on our bias just as any crisis. The brain holds onto negative situations more than positive ones. Think about any negative situation in your life and how your may ruminate on it more than good memories. Therefore, looking back at decisions you made in finance and thinking about how bias will impact on what you notice can improve discernment and what you see.
The behaviours to watch in any situation and especially a crisis is when fear and greed influences decisions. Behavioural portfolio theory states that fear and greed influences investors decisions. Fear can cause the investor to diversify their portfolio in investments that are low in risk and low in savings while greed can influence investors to diversity heavily in high risk investments in the hope of high returns. As a result fear can cause investors to sell shares when a crisis hits as it is high risk. However, this activity may not be helpful if your long term goal is to improve your retirement plan. So while you notice the crisis around you and your emotions also consider your goals in your investment strategy.
While attitude influenced the 2008 financial crisis, the financial crisis in 2020 was caused by a different nature. However, attitude can influence how you manage it. While emotions can guide life, you also need to look at your strategy which would include your goals and objectives to make informed decisions when investing. If your investment strategy is to retire well, then you need to consider your long term goals, alternatively if it to live on then it would be a short term strategy.
Trauma is a distressing experience that is above and beyond the person's ability to control. It may be human related which is intentional or non-intentional such as sexual, emotional, physical abuse or neglect or it is non-human related such as natural disasters. One event is traumatic however repeated events such as ongoing sexual, emotional or physical abuse is complex trauma. The traumatic event can be physically and psychologically distressing.
Trauma symptoms can range from feeling safe to complex post traumatic stress disorders. Therefore, not all people who have been through trauma need treatment. However, the earlier the treatment the better.
Treatment can help improve traumatic symptoms such as lack of concentration, hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour, oppositional behaviour, dissociaiton, lack of self-esteem, flashback of the traumatic event through intrusive memories, negative thinking, feeling the world is unsafe, unhealthy physical symptoms, lack of trust in others and more. Therefore, the traumatic event if left untreated can continue to effect the person's life.
While a person's sense of self can become shattered, through the the right support can heal and rebuild. If left untreated, the symptoms may harm the survivor and those around through aggression, anger, anxiety, dissociation and an inability to live a full and healthy life.
A longitudinal, epidemiological study of over 17,000 adults by American companies Kaiser Permanent and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention studied adverse childhood experiences (ACE) otherwise known as childhood trauma. Participants were recruited between 1995 and 1997 and continue to be monitored to measure mortality and morbidity rates.
Participants completed surveys to indicate the number of adverse childhood experiences they experienced when young, which included:
The study found that adults who have experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences had 4 to 12 fold increased health risk of alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and suicide attempts. The more categories of ACE a person had been through, the more health risk factors and other risks in later life they encountered. Moreover ACE was common as approximately two-thirds of participants reported at least one ACE and 87% of those experienced more than one.
The above list is not exhaustive but provides some risk factors that can occur when a child has unhealthy life experiences. The study indicates the value of ensuring a healthy environment for children as it creates a healthier society.
The study sends an important message of what adversity when young can do when the child grows up, as well as the value of ensuring a healthy environment when raising children.
Below is the pyramid that illustrates how adverse childhood experiences influences health and lifestyle risks across the lifespan.
On a last note, I have noticed there are many online quizzes that help measure the amount of your ACE and your risk factors you may experience later in life. I would not endorse any as they may cause you unnecessary worries as there are many other factors that need to be considered, such as how you have coped when growing up (e.g., getting help or social support), and other positive life experiences which can help you build resilience.
Therefore, even though you may have been through adverse life experiences when young, you are not doomed to many risk factors. The support you received is key to a healthy life trajectory. Trauma-informed therapies are one way toward a healthy lifestyle after adverse childhood experiences.
Source: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html
Felitti, Vincent J et al (1998). Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine , 14(4 ), 245 - 258.
An exercise to Improve Attention
Improving attention through visualisation is easy and will help you improve your ability for selective attention and focusing. Improving your attention will also help improve your memory. All you have to do is focus your attention on one thing. This thing can be a pen, a visual image, or anything else. Keep your attention on the object or image and notice all aspects of it. Notice the colour, texture, shape, function and meaning. When ever your attention becomes focused on something else other than the object or image, just gently bring your attention back. You can start with 2 minutes of focusing and then gradually increase the session over time. This exercise will help your ability to maintain attention in conversations, on your task and on your goals. Don't forget to do this exercise in a comfortable position, such as sitting on the floor, pillow or chair and to use a meaningful object or image.
Benefits of Improving Attention
Self-awareness and being self aware of others is an important aspect in maintaining focus. Improving your attention will help you will learn to identify how you feel, to trust yourself, and to know your strengths and limitations. When you need to focus on group work or to maintain a conversation you will learn about the other person's likes, dislikes and goals without judgement but full acceptance because your attention will stay with what is in front of you rather than shift to another topic, idea or object.
There are many factors that can cause parental stress. A few include financial, relationships, child temperament, work challenges and own past challenges.
Parental stress and child temperament is causal, however it can be argued if one causes the other. Studies have shown that children with challenging behaviours can cause maladaptive parenting strategies such as aggression or avoidance. On the other hand, parents can be stressed from factors outside of the child's control such as workplace issues which can cause maladaptive parenting styles, leading to challenging behaviours in the child.
Child temperament includes slow to warm up, fearfulness, effortful self-regulation and being difficult. These children are more likely to develop behaviour problems when exposed to stress in the family home compared to other children. The parent becomes irritable from stress, resulting in the child with poor self-regulation to become challenging. While a child who is able to self-regulate will soothe him or her self through self-talk, keeping one self occupied with something else such as playing and maintain good behaviour.
Therefore, it is important to consider child temperament and his or her environment to understand why challenging behaviours occur. Especially when one child misbehaves and the other doesn't in the same environment.
Josephine will update you with the latest and relevant research and discussions about mental health for adults, children and young people as well as money & behaviour, parenting strategies and learning