"Gaming disorder" now a mental health condition

Faith Castro
June 19, 2018

It's clear then that the World Health Organization doesn't rush into things or make rash judgments, and since the last revision of the manual has had ample time to study the impact of games on our daily lives.

In South Korea and the United States, clinics have sprung up to treat video game addiction, along with community and online support groups.

A spokesperson for the British Psychological Society, however, cautioned parents about what qualifies as compulsively playing video games. Still, nothing quite compares to this 9-year old girl who opted to keep playing Fortnite rather than use the bathroom.

One-in-three people worldwide play some form of free-to-play screen game. The DSM-5 calls out "Internet Gaming Disorder" but says it's a condition that warrants more clinical research and experience before it can be classified in the book as a formal disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association has not recognized gaming addiction as a mental illness.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will officially be classing addiction to video games as a disorder from today.

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"One is that the gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery", he told CNN.

Poznyak said the condition leads to "significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning". "But it's crucial to remember that it affects only a small percentage of gamers", he added.

The inclusion of "gaming disorder" in WHO's revised catalogue of diseases was met with resistance, both from the industry and experts. The overwhelming majority of video game adepts are young, many in their teens.

The United Nations health agency defines gaming disorder as a pattern of behavior where a person loses control over how much they play digital games, to the point where they prioritize gaming above other activities.

Gaming disorders are now being listed as a mental health condition, meaning that it can be diagnosed by doctors. "We understand that our industry and supporters around the world will continue raising their voices in opposition to this move and urge the WHO to avoid taking steps that would have unjustified implications for national health systems across the world".

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health - such as unsafe workflows in hospitals - can be identified and reduced, the statement said.

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