Gaming disorder could soon be a mental health condition, according to WHO

The World Health Organization released a draft version of its diagnostic manual and for the first time added "gaming disorder" to the list. Chesnot/Getty Images

Those who frequently play video games for a long period of time may soon be diagnosed with a mental health condition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

For the first time, the WHO is set to include a “gaming disorder” on its list of mental health conditions for its 11th International Classification of Disease (ICD) guidelines, which will be published in 2018.

READ MORE: How to tell if your kids are suffering from digital eye strain

The wording of the gaming disorder hasn’t been revealed yet. However, the draft outlines the criteria needed to determine whether someone can be classed as having a gaming disorder.

What are the characteristics?

According to the WHO, gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline and evident over a period of at least 12 months. This includes:

Story continues below advertisement
  • Impaired control over gaming (such as frequency, intensity and duration).
  • Increasing priority to gaming to the extent it takes over other life interests and daily activities.
  • Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

The behaviour pattern of obsessive gaming could lead to an impairment in your personal life, job or education, according to the WHO.

READ MORE: Calgary-based support program for gaming addicts helps thousands

Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO, told CNN the new entry on gaming disorder “includes only a clinical description and not prevention and treatment options.”

WATCH: New study says video games have no negative effects on children

What is the ICD?

The ICD is the “basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions,” Hartl told CNN.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Turns out action video games really can harm your brain, says Montreal study

By including a disorder in the ICD, countries can take it into account when making a decision on health care prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. By adding “gaming disorder” to the list, the WHO can make the health condition an official diagnoses that can be used in health-care matters, according to CNN.

The diagnostic manual was last updated in 1990 and is currently used by more than 100 countries, including Canada.

Internet fires back

After the WHO released the draft version of the ICD, many took to Twitter criticizing the decision to link playing a lot of video games to a mental health problem.

Sponsored content