WHO to recognise ‘gaming disorder’ as mental health condition in 2018 | Hindustan Times
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WHO to recognise ‘gaming disorder’ as mental health condition in 2018

Gaming disorder was listed among “disorders due to addictive behaviours” in a draft of the latest version of WHO’s manual, International Classification of Diseases, posted online.

world Updated: Dec 28, 2017 17:25 IST
HT Correspondent
People game in the Nintendo exhibit on opening day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
People game in the Nintendo exhibit on opening day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (AFP File Photo)

Playing video games obsessively could be classified as a mental health disorder from 2018, once the World Health Organization (WHO) goes ahead with proposed changes and updates to its diagnostic manual.

The WHO is set to include “gaming disorder” for the first time in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which is used by more than 100 countries. The latest version of the manual, last updated in 1990, will be published in May next year.

By adding “gaming disorder” to the ICD, WHO will make the health condition an official diagnosis that can be used by health care workers, including doctors, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told CNN.

A draft of the latest version of the manual, called ICD-11, posted online lists gaming disorder among “disorders due to addictive behaviours”. It also lists conditions medical personnel can use to decide if a gamer’s behaviour can be described as a mental health disorder.

“Gaming disorder is characterised by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences,” the draft states.

Such behaviour can be classified as a disorder if it is of “sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning”.

The behaviour 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,” it added.

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

“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,” he said.

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” that is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions.

The list is also intended to facilitate the sharing and comparing of health information between hospitals, regions and countries. Public health experts also use the ICD to track the number of deaths and diseases.

Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said health professionals need to recognise that gaming disorder may have “serious health consequences”.

“Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder either. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects,” Poznyak was quoted as saying by the Independent.

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