Compulsive video-game playing now a mental health condition

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has included "gaming disorder" as a new mental health condition in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

After much back and forth, however, the term was just granted validity, as the World Health Organization opted to include it in the latest edition of its Internal Classification of Diseases.

World Health Organization accepted the proposal that Gaming Disorder should be listed as a new issue based on scientific evidence. Dr Joan Harvey, a spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society, said that the new classification may cause unnecessary concern among parents.

Psychiatrist Richard Graham, who led the launch of the UK's first technology addiction service specifically for young people at Nightingale Hospital, London, said there was an important difference between enthusiastic gameplay and the new disorder.

The World Health Organisation's latest reference bible of recognised and diagnosable diseases describes addiction to digital and video gaming as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" that becomes so extensive that it "takes precedence over other life interests".

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"And let me emphasise that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that", he noted.

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.

"Disorders due to addictive behaviours are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviours other than the use of dependence-producing substances", writes the WHO.

Fortnite: Battle Royale, which is one of the most played video games of the year, is played by millions of people worldwide every day, and was completely free for gamers to download. The agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 per cent of all gamers believed to be affected.

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