World Health Organization adds ‘gaming disorder’ to 2018 mental health conditions

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Dec 28, 2017

Heads up, gamers: When applying for health insurance in the future, you may have to file your gaming addiction as a pre-existing condition, because the World Health Organization (WHO) has included “gaming disorder” on its beta draft of the 2018 list of mental health conditions.   

WHO has been working with the 10th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) since 1990. In that time, it’s been endorsed by over 100 countries worldwide as a comprehensive list allowing scientists and medical practitioners to share health information, research, and data.

The new ICD-11 will be published in May of 2018 and, in its current state, includes item 6D11, gaming disorder, which is “characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour.” According to the beta draft, the condition can be “continuous” or “episodic,” and is 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 behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

The inclusion of gaming disorder on this list means that doctors and health care workers can diagnose patient behavior as such. For that to occur, gaming behavior should normally be evident over the course of a year, but that duration can be shortened “if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

If such a mental health condition diagnosis is included on the final ICD-11, countries around the world will be asked to consider the problem of gaming disorder when allocating resources for health care services. So if you receive treatment for your gaming addiction, you could theoretically get it paid for through insurance, much like other forms of addictive behavior.

Of course, the topic of gaming behavior being a mental health condition raises a number of issues, particularly for the gaming industry, which would likely be against such a classification. So it’ll be interesting to see if gaming disorder is included in May’s final draft, or how the language describing it will change.

What do you think? Should gaming addiction be treated as a mental health condition?

(via CNN)