Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) controversially categorized a newly recognized mental disease called “gaming addiction”. While some private hospitals in the UK offer treatments for it, a newly-minted National Health Service (NHS) clinic will be the first publicly-funded clinic to focus on treating it.
This center, which will be run by the Central and North West London NHS foundation trust, plans to initially focus on gaming disorders but has plans to expand its services to cover other internet-based addictions in our growing digital age. The clinic has a focus of treatment and research, offering advice to families who come in for help. So far, funding for this clinic has been secured enough to provide a weekly therapy group for gaming addicts. The center is planned to be financed by the NHS, research grants and philanthropic sources.
“Gaming disorder is finally getting the attention it deserves.” Psychiatrist and clinic founder Henrietta Bowden-Jones says. “The distress and harm it can cause is extreme and I feel a moral duty on behalf of the NHS to provide the evidence-based treatment these young people and their families need.”
She goes on to say that it is unlikely that we will see “an epidemic of young players with an addiction to gaming but for the ones who do struggle, the Centre for Internet Disorders will be a life-changer.”
Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the World Health Organization’s decision to classify gaming addiction has, unsurprisingly, met strong opposition from various gaming industry giants like ESA, ESAC, IESA, IGEA, ISFE, K-GAMES, EGDF and UBV&G, who all signed a statement earlier this week in opposition. However, many also praise the inclusion of this newly-defined disorder as a step towards treating those afflicted and assisting families of young individuals. The disease classification is still in draft form, so nothing is set in stone quite yet.
If you’re interested in reading more about the new addiction clinic proposed by Bowden-Jones, you can read more at the original exclusive interview from The Guardian here.