The National Health Service in the United Kingdom includes NHS England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, and the affiliated Health and Social Care (HSC) in Northern Ireland. Each service provides a comprehensive range of health services, free at the point of use for people ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom. The NHS has now announced that it’s opening the country’s first specialist clinic to treat children and young adults who are addicted to playing computer games such as Fortnite, Candy Crush and Call of Duty.
This follows the World Health Organisation officially recognising gaming disorder as a disease earlier this year. Symptoms include lack of control over gaming and placing it as a huge priority at the expense of other things, including relationships, social life and studying. In May, WHO classified gaming disorder as an addictive behaviour that causes “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”
Starting today, young people can be referred to the clinic, while treatment will begin next month. The clinic will be part of the National Centre for Behavioural Addictions in London. Patients referred to it will be able to attend in person or have an online consultation using Skype. Their parents will also be offered specialist advice on how to manage their child’s addiction and reduce the amount of time they spend online.
“Health needs are constantly changing, which is why the NHS must never stand still,” said Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England. “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.”
Staff will help those aged 13 to 25 whose lives are being debilitated by spending countless hours playing games. The program will include clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, therapists and psychiatrists specialising in treating children and young people. They will work with patients to help tackle their addiction.