NHS to treat child gaming addicts as young as 12 isolated from

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. To be diagnosed, the WHO says a victim’s behaviour must be “of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”They would also normally be expected to have suffered it for at least a year.Dr Bowden-Jones, a member of WHO’s expert panel and the royal college of psychiatrists’ spokesman on addiction, is also proposing to develop a six-point classification system to assess the addictive risk of individual games such as Fortnite or Grand Theft Auto.It would enable clinicians and parents to rate and label games for their compulsiveness, propensity to violence, capacity to disrupt sleep and addictive reward mechanisms. Those posing the most severe risk would be classed six. This is the perfect time for experts and the industry to come togetherDr Henrietta Bowden-Jones “We will be treating people without understanding what is wrong with the products. That is why we need different categories so we can focus on those that are potentially the most harmful,” she said. “This is the perfect time for experts and the industry to come together.”The Telegraph is campaigning for a statutory duty of care on gaming and social media firms to protect children from online harms.The NHS group will run for eight weeks, with face-to-face and online sessions so it is available across the UK.Is your child a gaming addict? Six questions for parentsIs your child totally preoccupied with gaming and playing for long periods (four or more hours) every dayDoes your child become irritable, restless, anxious and moody when they are not gamingIs your child’s education suffering because of their gamingHas your child lost interest in all other leisure activities except gamingHas your child lied to your or other family members about the amount of time they spend gamingDoes your child use gaming as a way of changing their mood to make themselves feel betterIf you answered yes to all six of these questions – set by Mark Griffiths, professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University – this may be an indication of a gaming disorder. It follows the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) decision in June to classify gaming addiction as a medical disorder. Children as young as 12 will be among the first patients to be treated on the NHS for gaming addiction.Psychiatric staff from Central and North West London NHS trust have identified about half the potential patients, aged 12 to 20, whose addiction is so severe it has kept them off school, damaged their family relationships or isolated them from friends.The team, led by Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, who founded the NHS’s first national centre for problem gamblers, aims to recruit 15 in total for the pilot group, which will begin in September as a first step towards a national programme for gaming addiction.They will be treated for free on the NHS with funds from Nottingham Trent University, a leading research centre on behavioural addiction, with the aim of creating a model for diagnosis and treatment to be applied across the UK.”We’ll record in depth everything we can in order to develop the largest database in the country to better understand the illness,” said Dr Bowden-Jones. “They are different to gamblers or alcoholics. It’s a younger generation. As it doesn’t involve substances, the neurological processes will be different.” read more

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