WHO includes ‘gaming disorder’ as mental health condition

The World Health Organization has taken cognizance of studies suggesting the deteriorating of physical or psychological health due to enormous time spent in playing games rather than any physical activity

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New Delhi: The World Health Organization has included the gaming disorder in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

The ICD, a diagnostic manual published by the WHO, was last updated in 1990 and its new edition, ICD-11, has included gaming disorder as a serious health condition that needs to be monitored. ICD-11 will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by Member States, and will come into effect on 1 January 2022.

“Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders,” the WHO said in a statement.

This classification means health professionals and systems will be more “alerted to the existence of this condition” while boosting the possibility that “people who suffer from these conditions can get appropriate help”, Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, was quoted as telling the media.

The ICD is the foundation for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide, and contains around 55 000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death. It provides a common language that allows health professionals to share health information across the globe.

Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities. However, people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behavior.

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health — such as unsafe workflows in hospitals — can be identified and reduced, the statement said.
And let me emphasise that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that,” he noted.

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health — such as unsafe workflows in hospitals — can be identified and reduced, the statement said.