“Gaming Disorder” classified as a mental illness by WHO – NHS to offer treatment

“Gaming Disorder” classified as a mental illness by WHO – NHS to offer treatment

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially added “Gaming Disorder”, a mental illness that involves an addiction to video games, to their International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), despite complaints from the entertainment industry. 

With the release of ICD011, governments across the world have been notified of the condition and that they are expected to treat the disease in each of their respective healthcare systems, including the UK and their National Health Service (NHS). The inclusion of “Gaming Disorder” as an independent mental health condition has been sparked by an increasing number of gamers who have suffered from debilitating addiction to video games in recent years across the world. 

Most complaints regarding the conditions included in IDC-11 is the WHO’s chosen name for the disorder, as it places a negative connotation in “gaming” in a generalised sense, rather than the addiction aspect of the disease. The term, “Gaming Addiction Disorder” has been proposed as an alternative name, though it seems like the WHO has opted to retain their original title for the disorder.   

Gaming Disorder is a term for those whose life has been severely impacted by an addiction to video games, where those who suffer from the condition will give gaming precedence over other aspects of life like work, different interests, social/family life and nutritional needs.  

The WHO has been clear that “a very small portion of people who are involved in gaming behaviour” and that “gaming disorder is not equivalent to gaming behaviour”, creating the video below to explain the condition in greater detail. 

Right now the condition requires affected patients to exhibit symptoms for a 12 months before a diagnosis can be made, ensuring that medical professionals can differentiate between those who excessively game as a hobby and those who genuinely have an addiction disorder. 

The NHS has started treating patients with Gaming Disorder, though at this time specific treatment programs have not been created. Gaming Disorder is characterised by symptoms that are seen in other addictive and anxiety-driven disorders, with established treatments for related conditions acting as the current baseline for treatment for the disorder.  

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