WHO: Excessive gaming to be classified mental health disorder


Those who play video games obsessively may be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in 2018, according to a draft of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2018 update of International Classification of Diseases.

In the beta draft of its forthcoming 11th International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization includes “gaming disorder” on its list of mental health conditions. The disorder is defined as a “persistent or recurrent” behavior pattern of “sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”

The WHO further notes that “gaming disorder” is characterized by “impaired control” with increasing priority given to gaming and “escalation,” despite “negative consequences.”

According to the draft, “the gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

If “gaming disorder” is classified as a mental health disorder, insurance companies and doctors will have to recognize it as such.

According to a 2009 study, roughly 8 percent of Americans–from 8 to 18 years of age–exhibited pathological video game use.

Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for WHO, said the new ICD-11 entry on gaming disorder “includes only a clinical description and not prevention and treatment options.”

He described the ICD as the “basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions.”

This comprehensive list of conditions was created to make it easier for scientists to share and compare health information between hospitals, regions and countries. It also enables healthcare workers to compare data in the same location over different time periods. Public health experts also use the ICD to track the number of deaths and diseases, according to a report from CNN.

“Inclusion of a disorder in ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when making decisions on provision of health care and allocation of resources for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation,” Hartl said. By adding “gaming disorder” to the ICD, the WHO makes this health condition an official diagnosis that can be used by healthcare workers, including doctors.

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