The UN agency explained that the classification of “gambling disorder” as a distinct condition “will serve a public health purpose so that countries are better prepared to identify this problem”. Also adding that it will help governments, families and health workers to be more vigilant and ready to identify risks. But the agency and other experts have quickly noted that cases of illness are still very rare, with no more than 3% of all players who would be affected.
Dr. Bowden-Jones indicated that gambling addictions are generally better treated with psychological therapies, but that some medications may also work.
Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the WHO Department for Mental Health and Addiction, said the agency accepted the proposition that gambling disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to the need for treatment in many parts of the world. “
Dr. Joan Harvey, a spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society, warned that this news could cause unnecessary anxiety among parents.
” People have to understand that this does not mean that every child who spends hours in their room playing games is a snag, otherwise doctors will be inundated with requests for help,” she said.
Others welcomed the new WHO classification, saying that it was essential to identify people who were caught in video games quickly because they were usually teenagers or young adults who did not seek help from them. same.
“We meet parents who are distraught, not only because they see their child drop out of school, but because they see a whole family structure collapse , “ said Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, spokesperson behavioral addictions at the Royal College of Psychiatrists of Great Britain. It was not related to the WHO decision.
The American Psychiatric Association has not yet considered gambling disorder as a new mental health problem. In a 2013 statement, the association said it was “a condition for more clinical research and experience before being considered for inclusion” in its own diagnostic manual.
Dr. Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video game disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimize the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.
“The video game is like a non-financial game from a psychological point of view , “ said Griffiths, a prominent addiction professor at the University of Nottingham Trent. “Players use money as a way to keep score while players use points. “
He guessed that the percentage of video game players with a problem was probably very low – much less than 1% – and that many of these people would likely have other underlying issues, such as depression, bipolar disorder or autism.
Griffiths said that playing video games, for the vast majority of people, is more about entertainment and novelty, citing the overwhelming popularity of games like “Pokemon Go.”
” You have these short and obsessive explosions and yes, people play a lot, but it’s not addictive,” he said.