'Gaming disorder' will soon be classified as a mental health condition

Ebony Scott
June 19, 2018

We want to hear from our readers about gaming disorders and whether they have been affected by this issue.

"We believe that understanding this population and the nature and severity of the problems they experience should be a focus area for future research", reads the abstract of a paper titled 'A weak scientific basis for gaming disorder: Let us err on the side of caution.' "However, moving from research construct to formal disorder requires a much stronger evidence base than we now have". Still, nothing quite compares to this 9-year old girl who opted to keep playing Fortnite rather than use the bathroom. Many of people on social media have said how stupid this is to have an addiction for gaming. For the first time, in this edition, the ICD has named and described "gaming disorder" in the section on addictive disorders.

Many parents already have concerns, but some may now have a new argument for limiting their children's "screen time" - addiction to video games has been recognised by World Health Organisation as a mental health disorder. If you are a video game enthusiast or at least know others that love to spend hours playing games you might be interested in the three major diagnostic features or characteristics of gaming disorder.

"The WHO process lacks transparency, is deeply flawed, and lacks scientific support", Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, said in a statement in March.

It is believed that between 1% and 6% of young people are addicted to video games.

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How will the World Health Organization classification of gaming disorder affect Americans?

A critical point in engaging with the ICD is that inclusion or exclusion is not a judgement on the validity of a condition or the efficacy of treatment. "Its inclusion in the ICD would pave way for doctors to diagnose and treat it better, while governments can use it to develop public health strategies to tackle it", Dr Shekhar Saxena, director, department for mental health and substance abuse, WHO, told TOI.

The objective of including gaming disorder in the ICD is, in part, to bring more attention to the issue and raise the visibility of treatments for those seeking help for excessive video game playing, World Health Organization said.

In addition, ICD is also used by health insurers whose reimbursements depend on ICD coding as well as national health program managers, data collection specialists and others tracking progress in global health and determine the allocation of health resources.

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