Butabika Hospital is putting in place measures to support gaming addicts following the classification of the addiction as a mental health disorder.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified compulsive video gaming as a mental health condition in its updated International Classification of Diseases (ICD) manual, released on Monday. Although the WHO doesn’t give a specific time to categorize the degree of addiction, it warns that the digital distraction becomes a disorder when increasing priority is given to gaming over other life interests and daily activities.
Dr David Basangwa, the Executive Director of the National Mental Referral Hospital, Butabika, the facility has previously received an average of three patients suffering from video gaming addiction annually. But according to Dr Basangwa, hundreds of cases go unreported as patients find difficulty in acknowledging that they need medical attention.
Dr Basangwa advises addicts to stop living in denial and seek medical attention adding that gaming addiction is comparable to other addictions like alcoholism and drug abuse, for which people have ended up in rehabilitation centres over the years.
Dr Basangwa observes that gaming wouldn’t be a problem if it is modulated to ensure that it does not interfere with ones work, education, relationship or even personal health.
He adds that the biggest challenge is that addicts sometimes acknowledge that they have a problem but fail to control their desires in playing the video games. He cautions that medical attention should be sought as soon as one realizes that the game is controlling them.
But the classification by the WHO has been received with mixed feeling among parents. Although some parents we randomly talked to on the streets of Kampala, observed that video games are a distraction, others said that it’s the only option to stop children from wandering or even winding down after hectic school days.