Burnout Is Now Recognized as an Official Medical Condition, WHO Says

Henrietta Strickland
May 29, 2019

"'Gaming disorder' is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO's most important norm-setting tools".

Gaming disorder is placed in a category in the revision called "Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors", alongside other more recognized addictions such as alcohol and gambling.

But a journal paper published previous year by 36 academics, mental health professionals, and social scientists has also opposed the WHO decision to recognize gaming disorder. We all know someone who could end up playing Federation Internationale de Football Association or Fortnite for endless hours, but the WHO adopted the eleventh revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) on the weekend. Rather, the disorder occurs when gaming interferes with people's daily lives. Following this news, industry representatives from the US, Europe and six other countries put out a joint statement that calls upon the World Health Organization to reconsider.

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that "burnout" remains an "occupational phenomenon" that could lead someone to seek care but it is not considered a medical condition.

Despite its now-official classification, some don't agree with WHO's dubbing of gaming as an addiction.

Park Seung-beom, director of Game Content Industry Division at the Culture Ministry, said Monday it would fight the World Health Organization decision, as pathologizing dependence on games "lacks reasonable scientific validation". The new revision goes into effect on 1 January 2022.

The updated ICD list, dubbed ICD-11, was drafted previous year following recommendations from health experts around the world and was approved last Saturday.

In many countries, transgender people must be diagnosed with a "gender identity disorder" in order to be approved for various aspects of their transition - from changing their name on their driver's license to undergoing gender confirmation surgery.

The ICD is WHO's handbook meant to guide medical professionals in diagnosing diseases.

The phrase "was taken out from the mental health disorders because we had a better understanding that this wasn't actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma", Dr. Lale Say, coordinator of WHO's Adolescents and at-Risk Populations team, said last June. The Global Video Game Industry Association is "concerned [WHO] reached their conclusion without the consensus of the academic community".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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