Burnout officially recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization

Grant Boone
May 31, 2019

The ICD-11 gaming disorder is placed immediately after "gambling disorder" and describes nearly word for word the latter, with "gambling" being replaced by "computer games". The definition given by the World Health Organization for gaming disorder is that it is "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" so severe it "takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences". However, the majority of video game players see no harm done to their lives even in situations where gaming is their preferred form of entertainment. As Polygon points out, Gaming Disorder is listed right after Gambling Disorder and is nearly a word-for-word copy of the latter, only "gambling" is replaced with "gaming". The condition is in a subcategory called "Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors".

Dr Lale Say, Coordinator, Adolescents and at-Risk Populations Team at the World Health Organization says, "It was taken out of mental health disorders because we have better understanding that this is actually not a mental health condition and leaving it there was causing stigma".

Some mental health providers have also voiced opposition to the WHO's decision.

Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

Gaming disorder can impair personal, family, social, educational and/or occupational functioning.

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The new ICD-11 ruling cementing the decision will officially come into effect from January 1, 2022.

Park Seung-beom, director of Game Content Industry Division at the Culture Ministry, said Monday it would fight the World Health Organization decision, as pathologizing dependence on games "lacks reasonable scientific validation". Therefore, the government is expected to have difficulty in setting up relevant policies if the two ministries fail to narrow their differences in the future.

The American Psychiatric Association also says there is not enough evidence to classify gaming addiction as a unique mental disorder. However, it is not just the worker who suffers but the employer as well.

"I believe World Health Organization classifying workplace burnout as an official medical diagnosis will lead business organisations to take work-life balance more seriously, and implement wellbeing programs to prevent workplace burnout", he said.

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