Following the classification of "Gaming Disorder" as a mental illness by the World Health Organization earlier this year, the United Kingdom's National Health Service has announced that they've opened up a new specialty clinic that will help treat children and young adults who are suffering from game addiction.
The Guardian reports that the clinic will serve people from ages 13–25 who are suffering debilitating issues from playing video games for too long. As of October 8, general practitioners and other qualified health professionals can refer gaming addicts to this new service.
"Gaming disorder is a mental health condition which can have a hugely debilitating effect on people’s lives, both for patients and their families who can be left feeling utterly helpless in the wake of their loved one’s addiction," said director of the NHS Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorder Director Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, who also serves as the spokeswoman on behavioural addictions for the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
"Gaming disorder is not a mental illness to be taken lightly," she added. "We are talking about instances where someone may spend up to 12 hours a day playing computer games and can end up becoming socially isolated and lose their job as a result."
New Levy Sought to Pay for Game Addiction
"The sums just don’t add up and that is why as well as voluntary action it makes sense to hold open the possibility of a mandatory levy if experience shows that is what is needed," said NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens as reported by Accountancy Daily.
"A levy to fund evidence-based NHS treatment, research and education can substantially increase the money available, so that taxpayers and the NHS are not left to pick up a huge tab."
The tax would be used to pay for as many as 14 new NHS clinics that will focus on treating gambling; the Royal College of Nursin's professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith has echoed Mr. Stevens' sentiments on the call for a new tax, a portion of which would probably go towards treating game addiction.
"Online gaming firms and global social media firms who make millions of pounds of profit must take more responsibility by keeping their platforms safe, and introduce safeguards to reduce the burden on the health service."
What do you think of the NHS opening up a Gaming Disorder clinic? Do you think the problem of game addiction is serious enough to warrant medical treatment? Let us know in the comments below!