The World Health Organization has officially classified "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition. Many health experts who welcomed the decision to classify it believe that it is an important step forward.
The World Health Organization defined gaming disorder in the new draft of the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases or ICD-11 as a pattern of gaming behavior that involves the excessive or compulsive use of computer games or video games that interferes with a person's daily life and normal activities.
According to Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the main characteristics of the disorder are very similar to those of addictive disorders including gambling disorders and substance use disorders.
What Is The International Classification Of Diseases?
The International Classification of Diseases is an international standard diagnostic tool that lists and classifies recognized diseases and medical problems. Doctors, medical practitioners, and researchers across the globe use this tool to diagnose and categorize diseases.
Why Is WHO's Classification Of 'Gaming Disorder' So Important?
Many health experts believe that the official classification of gaming disorder is very important, because it will help and enable doctors and mental health practitioners around the world to diagnose, prevent, and treat the condition, as well as identify the risks associated with the addictive behavior.
On top of that, the classification would also raise public awareness of the long-term potential psychological effects of gaming, and enable sufferers to get insurance coverage for treatment.
Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor from the Iowa State University, has compared the classification of the condition to the decision in the 1950's to recognize alcoholism as a medical condition, instead of a personal failing. He said that the move would be a significant step, if it will simply get people talking about the potential issue of the condition.
"At that time, the public did not believe alcoholism was a medical issue; they just thought it was a personal failing. We now know a disease model is useful for helping people overcome alcoholism. Similarly, the public tend to think of excessive gaming as a personal failing," said Gentile.
"Nonetheless, gaming disorder can be very harmful and not something people can easily get over on their own, but with the right treatment they can."
Brendan Kelly, professor of psychiatry from the Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, was also among those who welcomed the decision by the WHO to classify gaming addiction as a mental disorder. Kelly said that it was undeniable that many young people suffer from gaming addiction and that the disorder could lead to a profound social isolation.