Mental Health and Wellbeing: How gambling harm impacts international students physical, social and emotional wellbeing and support strategies.

Mrs Cherry Louey, Isolde Scherrer

Changed living conditions, greater responsibilities, managing money, study and family expectations can put immense pressure on students. Gambling can be used by international students to manage stressors as a means of escape, sense of achievement, relaxation and a chance of winning big money. The likely outcome can cause or aggravate existing mental health issues as a result of added financial pressure, and adverse emotional consequences if the gambling becomes an addiction. 40% of international students affected by high levels of harm reported that they felt they needed to seek help but chose not to do so. Help seeking barriers include real and perceived issues accessing services and providers appropriately responding to international students. This can impact early intervention when initial harms present. Research has shown international students who gamble are more than twice as likely to be affected by high levels of gambling related harm than domestic students. Accessibility to sports betting, appealing marketing and incentivisation can influence behaviour. 15% of male international students who gamble reported high levels of harm. It is critical that support staff understand specialist services available to students including Financial Counsellors that can advocate for international students regarding debts and setting budgets or Therapeutic Counsellors providing psychological support. Melbourne Counselling Service has worked with a number of educational institutions to build partnerships and provide support for international students across Melbourne. The workshop will be an opportunity for participants to understand evidence-based strategies and successful case studies to assist international students affected by gambling harm and co-occurring conditions.


Cherry Louey is a clinical family therapist and social worker with over 30 years’ experience as a therapist, including 15 years as a therapeutic counsellor with Gambler’s Help services in Melbourne. She also has a private practice. She is particularly interested in integrating systemic, psychodynamic and analytic approaches in her work with individuals and couples.

Isolde Scherrer is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Gambler‘s Help City & Inner North in Melbourne. Her role is to promote and increase community awareness and knowledge about gambling and gambling related harm. Isolde has extensive experience in community capacity building programs working with remote and urban communities throughout Western Australia and Victoria. She has a genuine interest in public health and a strong commitment to developing and creating healthier, more resilient and sustainable communities.