The NHS is Launching a Game Addiction Clinic for Children and Young Adults

By Alistair Jones on at

The NHS is launching a specialist clinic to provide health and care to children and young people who are addicted to playing computer games. Part of the National Centre for Behavioural Addictions, patients can be referred to the clinic from today, with appointments set to begin next month.

According to The Guardian, clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, therapists, and psychiatrists will help young people between the ages of 13-25 to cope with their addiction via appointments that take place either at the clinic or over Skype.

Both NHS chief executive Simon Stevens and Fiona Smith, professional lead for children and young people at the Royal College of Nurses, said that while healthcare needs are constantly changing, game developers should do more to prevent harmful behaviour rather than attempting to profit from it.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" - expressed primarily as impaired control over the frequency and intensity of gaming - to its list of recognised mental health conditions. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee has also recently sought advice from players and developers to determine whether gaming could be addictive, and in a recent report came to what Kotaku UK editor Rich Stanton described as a "somewhat irresponsible" estimate that between 96,000 to 320,000 people in the UK could be affected by gaming addiction.

There is a bit of a definition problem here, as health professionals work to try and figure out not only how to treat but how to define gaming disorder. Practical moves like this can only enhance the quality of research in the area, something everyone should welcome. If you're in the UK and would like to more about the service, speak to your GP.