"Gaming disorder" now a mental health condition

Many video games are created to keep people engaged for long periods of time - sometimes employing psychologists to help design games that will appeal to people.

It is scheduled to be presented to WHO member states at their annual World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption in January 2022, the WHO said.

On Monday, the U.N.'s health agency announced it will add extreme video game playing as a condition in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases manual.

That means doctors can diagnose and offer treatment to someone with the condition.

Benjamin Wong, a counselor at Mindful Digitality based in Vancouver, British Columbia, joins KRON4 News to discuss.

It is listed under the "Mental, behavioural or neurodevelopmental disorders" category and the "Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors" subcategory. Gaming disorder can lead to disturbed sleep patterns, diet problems and deficiency in physical activities.

The ICD is the foundation for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide, and contains around 55,000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death.




Others welcomed WHO's new classification, saying it was critical to identify video game addicts quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who don't seek help themselves. Those seeking treatment for compulsive or addictive technology use, including for gaming, have had trouble finding treatment that is covered by insurance.

To be clear, the medical community isn't exactly rushing in to take everyone's video games away. "Right now we are seeing people spend up to 16 hours a day just playing on these video games, so this allows them to reach out for help", Nottke said.

The move means that people will now be able to receive treatment for their addictions to video games and that the NHS in the United Kingdom will be able to provide treatment to children addicted to games free of charge.

It characterised the addiction as when one has impaired control over their gaming behaviour, and as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" that becomes so extensive that it "takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities".

Video game addiction will soon become a diagnosable metal health condition, at least in the eyes of leading global health officials.

A new chapter also has been added on traditional medicine. "The WHO should consider the mounting evidence put before them before inclusion next year of "gaming disorder" in the final version of ICD-11".

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