The NHS is to open its first specialist clinic to help children and young adults who have a “serious addiction” to computer games.
The new clinic is part of the National Centre for Behavioural Addictions located in London, England. People aged between 13 and 25 in England can ask for a referral to the service from their GP or other health professional.
The service is being offered as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which aims to adapt healthcare needs as society advances.
In a statement, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens had the following to say:
“Health needs are constantly changing which is why the NHS must never stand still – this new service is a response to an emerging problem, part of the increasing pressures that children and young people are exposed to these days.”
“However, the NHS should not be left to pick up the pieces – gambling and internet firms have a responsibility to their users as well as their shareholders and should do their utmost to prevent rather than cash in on obsessive or harmful behaviour.”
Recently, the World Health Organization classified ‘gaming disorder’ as a mental health condition for the first time and, as such, the NHS is taking steps to help treat individuals who may be suffering.
The World Health Organization defines gaming disorder as “a pattern of gaming behaviour […] characterised by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
Treatment at the clinic officially starts in November 2019, but people in search of help can ask for referrals at any point during October 2019 and onward.
If you think you may be addicted to gaming and require professional help, consider asking your GP about the service as soon as possible. Appointments can be attended in-person or online, over a platform such as Skype, if a person affected can’t get feasibly get to London.