More help for young people addicted to gaming

Grant Boone
October 9, 2019

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, created to treat kids and young adults who healthcare professionals believe have developed an addiction to video games.

The new Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorders goes live at the same time as the children and young person's gambling addiction service.

The new service, including support via Skype, is part of the Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorders.

"Health needs are constantly changing, which is why the NHS must never stand still", the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, told The Guardian. In addition to the new children and young people's services opening, up to 14 new adult NHS gambling clinics are being opened nationwide.

The disorder is described as: a pattern of "persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, 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".

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"Although the NHS has a responsibility to adapt to these modern changes, taxpayers can not raise the bill alone", said Fiona Smith, head of the Children and Young People department at RCN.

However, he called on gambling and internet firms to "prevent rather than cash in on obsessive or harmful behaviour", saying the NHS should not "be left to pick up the pieces".

News of the clinic has come several months after the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations, officially recognized "Gaming Disorder" as a disease. "Online gaming and social media firms make millions of pounds in profits and consequently have to take responsibility for securing their platforms and presenting ways to reduce the financial burden of health insurance". The clinic will require mental health nurses, but there are now 40,000 nursing positions waiting to be filled just in England.

The NHS said other countries grappling with internet and gaming addiction had taken other steps to protect children. 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.

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