Northstar’s “Northern Exposure” campaign, an effort to focus more attention on problem gambling in Northern Minnesota, is continuing to move forward. The latest phase is to generate public awareness about problem gambling through a media and advertising campaign in that part of the state.

The first phase of the effort involved determining the need for additional gambling counselors in Northern Minnesota. Once the need was confirmed, the goal of the second phase was to incent more counselors to specialize in treating clients with gambling addiction by offering scholarships.

Since the beginning of the year, problem gambling messages have been communicated in various ways and in various venues, including posters in rest rooms, mobile phone ads and ads in print and online newspapers. “We know that the northern part of Minnesota has a significant need for services and we wanted to create a plan that would bring more attention to the problem – and ultimately allow more people to get the help they need,” says Cathie Perrault, Northstar executive director.

Cheryl Minks, BS, LADC, treatment director at Freedom Center in Princeton, Minnesota, feels the need for gambling counselors is considerable. “In rural areas, there are fewer providers for people to see and I think the need is great,” says Cheryl.

“As a clinical supervisor, my sense is that gambling problems may not be diagnosed as effectively as they could be because of a lack of training. People should be trained to provide the proper therapy when these people are in front of them.”

Cheryl also thinks there’s a need for more alcohol and drug counselors to be trained in problem gambling because of the potential for cross addiction into gambling. Three staff at Freedom have taken advantage of the Northstar scholarship opportunity to get trained as certified gambling counselors.

The “Northern Exposure” campaign winds down in August.