WHO classifies compulsive video game playing as a mental health condition

WHO classifies compulsive video game playing as a mental health condition
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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said that compulsively playing video games classifies as a mental health condition. 

The United Nations health agency made the announcement in its latest revision to its disease classification manual, according to The Associated Press.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO's department for mental health and substance abuse, told the news outlet that the conclusion was based on scientific evidence and that it indicates “the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world.”


A spokesperson for the British Psychological Society, however, cautioned parents about what qualifies as compulsively playing video games. 

“People need to understand this doesn't mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict, otherwise medics are going to be flooded with requests for help,” Dr. Joan Harvey said. 

The AP notes that the American Psychiatric Association still does not label gaming disorder as a mental health condition.

A 2013 statement from the group said it's “a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion” in its manual. The group has also noted that most of the scientific literature about compulsive gamers is based on findings on young Asian men. 

Saxena said approximately 2-3 percent of gamers are likely affected by this condition and said many parents should make sure to consistently observe the habits of their children.  

“Be on the lookout,” he said. “If (video games) are interfering with the expected functions of the person — whether it is studies, whether it's socialization, whether it's work — then you need to be cautious and perhaps seek help.”