Gaming Disorders Will Be Initial Focus for UK Internet Addiction Centre Funded by NHS

Games made international headlines for the wrong reasons yet again last week when the WHO (World Health Organization) officially classified gaming disorder as part of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Even though WHO’s move received backlash and responses from gamers and the games industry itself, it looks like the world at large is still going to take gaming disorders seriously. Only one week has passed since then and someone is already trying to treat the so-called “mental health condition.”

As reported by The Guardian, the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK is preparing to launch the very first Internet Addiction Centre at a London hospital. For those living outside the UK, the NHS is a publicly funded national healthcare system. The center will initially focus on gaming disorders, with plans for expanding to treat other Internet-based addictions.

How does it plan to do that? The center is described as “a place of treatment and research, offering advice to families.” The center’s founder, psychiatrist Henrietta Bowden-Jones, said: “Gaming disorder is finally getting the attention it deserves. 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.”

Gaming Disorder: The Reason For These Centers

According to Bowden-Jones, the reason why the Internet Addiction Centre will initially focus on gaming disorders is “to protect young people from dropping out of school.” There is little scientific and medical evidence to support the notion of gaming disorders. At least, that’s part of the argument against WHO’s classification in the official statement from the coalition of international organizations.

The official statement reads: “Video games across all kinds of genres, devices, and platforms are enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide, with the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games being well-founded and widely recognized. We are therefore concerned to see ‘gaming disorder’ still contained in the latest version of the WHO’s ICD-11 despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community.” To read the full statement, check out our report of it from last week here.