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It's Official: WHO Now Recognizes 'Gaming Disorder' As A Mental Health Condition

Jun 19, 2018 12:47 AM EDT
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People who have picked up a controller know how addictive gaming is, but now the World Health Organization makes it official.

Despite some concern over it, the organization added gaming disorder to the newly released 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, recognizing it as a mental health condition.

WHO Classifies Gaming

The inclusion lets health officials be on the lookout of gaming disorder, then provide help to people who are diagnosed with this condition.

"I'm not creating a precedent," Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, explains in a CNN report. He adds that the organization followed "the trends, the developments, which have taken place in populations and in the professional field."

Poznyak's department proposed the new diagnosis to the World Health Assembly.

Not the entire health industry is on board with naming gaming as a mental health condition, though. Anthony Bean, a psychologist and executive director of a non-profit mental health clinic, believes the move is premature. He tells CNN that many actually use gaming as a coping mechanism for other conditions such as depression or anxiety.

Gaming Disorder

The newly recognized disorder can be recognized with three signs, according to Tech Crunch: impaired control over gaming, increasing priority for gaming over other activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.

WHO notes that for diagnosis, the behavior pattern has to be of sufficient severity and present negative effects on the individual's life. It also has to occur over the period of 12 months. Exceptions can reportedly be made if some signs are present and the symptoms are severe.

A number of medical practitioners, such as Dr. Joan Harvey of the British Psychological Society, say that some parents may be unnecessarily concerned of their children who simply like playing video games.

"People need to understand this doesn't mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict, otherwise medics are going to be flooded with requests for help," Harvey clarifies.

Poznyak explains that prevalence of the condition is actually very low, adding that since gaming disorder is a clinical condition, only trained health professionals can offer a diagnosis on it.

The ICD

WHO calls the ICD "the bedrock for health statistics," mapping the human condition throughout the entire life with any injury, disease, or cause of death coded and recorded. Many health care decisions are made in the basis of these statistics.

"The ICD is a product that WHO is truly proud of," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, says in a statement on the 11th edition of the ICD. "It enables us to understand so much about what makes people get sick and die, and to take action to prevent suffering and save lives."

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