Gaming disorder, burn-out now recognised by WHO
The WHO defines burn-out as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and gaming disorder as a pattern of digital or video gaming behaviour.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised gaming disorder as a disease and burn-out due to work as a medical condition. They’re now officially listed under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) during its 11th revision.
Used by medical practitioners around the whole, the ICD is used to identify health trends and statistics globally. Researchers consider the ICD as the international standard for reporting and categorising diseases and health conditions. WHO released the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) in mid-2018.
According to WHO, gaming disorder is a pattern of digital or video gaming behaviour.
“People who are engrossed in video games often think they have power. Some fail to distinguish the virtual world from the real one,” said Akifa Mariam Siddique, a Chennai-based psychologist and student counsellor.
The WHO has studied clinical cases of gaming behaviour that has led to significant impairment in functioning. In 2013, “Internet Gaming Disorder” was included in the classification of mental and behavioural disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) as a condition for further study.
In June 2018, the WHO proposed including “gaming disorder” to its list of globally recognised diseases, and now the organisation has agreed on the addition. But why is it called a disease now? This behaviour is characterised by impaired control over gaming, increased priority given to gaming over other activities, and its escalation despite negative consequences.
Siddique said that addiction to video games at an early stage in a child's life plays a major role in character building. “Children often spend time away from their families which is unhealthy and affects their psychological and emotional health.” She added that they have anger issues, withdrawal symptoms, and depression.
The global video game industry did not welcome this decision. The association included representatives from Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, South Africa, and Brazil.
In a press release, the association said, “The WHO is an esteemed organisation and its guidance needs to be based on regular, inclusive, and transparent reviews backed by independent experts. ‘Gaming disorder’ is not based on sufficiently robust evidence to justify its inclusion in one of the WHO’s most important norm-setting tools.”
The WHO says the move was based on “reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions.” It also added that only a small proportion of people who play video games are affected. “For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning, and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”
“Socialising with people, reading books, taking up sports can help people in overcoming their gaming addiction,” said Siddique.
Listed under factors influencing health status, burn-out as a syndrome is now considered a medical condition. “This is the first time burn-out has been included in the classification under ICD-11,” said WHO Spokesperson, Tarik Jasarevic.
The WHO defines burn-out as a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions, namely, feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job and reduced professional efficacy.
The WHO has warned that this mental condition refers specifically to a phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life. It specifically notes that burn-out must not be confused with adjustment disorder, anxiety or fear-related disorders, mood disorders, and disorders specifically associated with stress. This decision could help put an end to debate on defining burn-out.
The ICD-11 will take effect in January 2022.