The Gambling Helpline has introduced a text service, to overcome the barrier of shame and stigma which can prevent or delay contact with the Helpline and face-to-face services.The service has been promoted using billboard advertisements in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
Mobile phones can provide more discretion than a fixed land-line in a family or work environment and New Zealanders can access the service anonymously and at no charge, by texting to the number 8006, which was organised for us by Dialhog.
The free text generates a response communicating the Helpline's 0800 number - 0800 654 655 and also reassurance that a counsellor will soon be in touch. Clients are encouraged to phone whenever is convenient for them and if they don't feel like talking, they can send through their contact details for an information pack to be sent to them, including Gambling Helpline's self-help booklets and a list of all face-to-face counselling agencies.
If the new clients choose to continue to text information about their concerns, appropriate motivational text messages are sent and ongoing text encouragement is provided to phone the Helpline. This is done using Dialhog's Instant Message function, designed to send a text to a single recipient immediately.
Over time, the Helpline believes it will be possible to determine the groups most likely to text and those for whom the different services are most useful.
"This initiative builds on the Gambling Helpline's commitment to ongoing development of technological solutions which increase the range of communication and choices available to clients who need help."