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Gaming disorder added to WHO's list of mental health conditions

Gaming disorder added to WHO's list of mental health conditions

Yesterday, an updated version of the draft has been released to member states of the World Health Organization so that they might prepare to implement the changes.

The AP notes that The American Psychiatric Association still does not label Gaming Disorder as a mental health condition.

"A key principle in this revision was to simplify the coding structure and electronic tooling - this will allow health care professionals to more easily and completely record conditions", said Dr. Robert Jakob, leader of the WHO's Classifications Terminologies and Standards team. Separate from addiction, this refers to a pattern of gaming that "increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences for the individual or others around this individual".

In recent times, a number of games are free to download, which undoubtedly contributes to the gaming culture.

Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist and executive director at the non-profit health clinic The Telos Project, told CNN that labeling gaming disorder as a diagnosable condition was "premature". Those seeking treatment for compulsive or addictive technology use, including for gaming, have had trouble finding treatment that is covered by insurance.

Having the condition officially described by the World Health Organization will help facilitate such academic investigations, and could have the added benefit of leveraging insurance companies to cover therapeutic interventions.

Symptoms of video game addiction include neglecting responsibilities and increasing priority to gaming over other activities or social interaction. The latest edition also has a new chapter on traditional medicine.

Responding to the decision to including gaming addiction, the Video Games Coalition - an industry lobby group - said their products were "enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide" across all kinds of genres, devices and platforms.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video gaming disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimize the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.

The UN health agency said classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will 'serve a public health objective for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue'. The WHO warned that those suffering from "gaming disorder" can suffer impacts to their family, social, educational, and occupational lives.

An addiction "should be clearly and unambiguously established before formalizing new disorders in disease classification system".

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