Compulsive video-game playing classified as mental health problem by WHO

Gaming disorder could soon be treated in public health sector

However, Vladimir Poznyak of the WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse told New Scientist past year, when the agency first revealed its decision to include gaming disorder in its diagnostic manual, that the move was supported by sufficient evidence.

Gamers are fighting back against the World Health Organization (WHO), which said yesterday that "gaming disorder" will appear in a new draft of the organization's International Classification of Diseases, a compendium of medical conditions.

From playing "Fortnite" in their own homes for hours, to wandering city streets collecting Pokemon on their phones - many people are obsessed with video games.

"If (video games) are interfering with the expected functions of the person - whether it is studies, whether it's socialization, whether it's work - then you need to be cautious and perhaps seek help", he said. As its public listing reads, it is characterized by a pattern of "persistent or recurrent gaming behavior" including impaired control over frequency and duration, increasing priority to give gaming precedence over other "life interests and daily activities", and continuing to game despite negative consequences.

A 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use and Mental Health Survey showed that 13% of students between grades seven and 12 reported symptoms of a problem with video games.

Griffiths said playing video games, for the vast majority of people, is more about entertainment and novelty, citing the overwhelming popularity of games like "Pokemon Go". The DSM-5 calls out "Internet Gaming Disorder" but says it's a condition that warrants more clinical research and experience before it can be classified in the book as a formal disorder.

"They're prioritising their gaming above pretty much everything else in their life".

Lubna Alansari, WHO's Assistant Director-General talked about the ICD saying, "It is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease".

This is the first revision of the codes to be completely electronic, which World Health Organization officials said was a better way to group conditions, and would enable patient safety to be recorded more easily.

The ICD-11 isn't yet finished, though: The publication won't be endorsed as a final release until 2019, and won't be fully adopted until 2022.

Among the other changes to the ICD-11 are a new chapter on traditional medicine, the first time it has been included in the document. However, the DSM falls short of declaring gaming addiction a legitimate disorder.

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