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Following the World Health Organization's decision back in May to officially classify "Gaming Disorder" as a recognised illness, the NHS is set to open the UK's first specialist clinic, designed to treat kids and young adults who healthcare professionals believe have developed an addiction to video games.
According to WHO's ICD-11 Gaming Disorder is described as "A pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior ('digital gaming' or 'video-gaming'), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline.
The disorder may manifest itself through "impaired control over gaming", increasingly putting video games ahead of other "life interests and activities", and continuing to put in long play sessions despite obvious negative consequences in matters of "personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning."
From today (October 8) GPs and other health professionals in England will be able to refer those aged between 13 - 25 who may be displaying the above symptoms for treatment, reports The Guardian. The clinic has been set up in light of the WHO classification, and the growing concern among parents that too much time spent on video games can lead to mental and physical health issues.
When the WHO first announced its decision to classify gaming disorder as an illness, various Entertainment Associations from across the globe, including the US, Canada, South Korea, Australia, and the UK have came together to criticise the move, warning of "far reaching and unintended consequences" that could be of detriment to those in genuine need of help.
For its part, the WHO argued that its classification was based on "reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of technical consultations undertaken by WHO in the process of ICD-11 development."
The newly-announced NHS clinic will be part of the National Centre for Behavioural Addictions in London, and patients will be able to attend either in person or via an online consultation using Skype. Ultimately, the plan is for clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, therapists and psychiatrists to work with those referred in treating their addiction.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England said "Health needs are constantly changing, which is why the NHS must never stand still. This new service is a response to an emerging problem, part of the increasing pressures that children and young people are exposed to these days."
Just yesterday, it was revealed a law firm in Canada is currently preparing a class-action lawsuit that's taking aim at Fortnite developer Epic Games, who the legal filing claims "knowingly" made its game "very, very addictive."
Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with legal firm Calex Légal, likened the case to the 2015 Quebec Superior Court ruling that found tobacco companies weren't doing enough to warn customers about the dangers of the smoking.
Featured Image Credit: Rockstar/Epic Games
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