The National Health Service has opened the first specialist gaming addiction clinic in the UK.
Announcing the move on its website, the NHS said: “The new service is part of the National Centre for Behavioural Addictions, which will also provide support for internet addiction and is located alongside the National Problem Gambling Clinic. The new Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorders launches at the same time as the children and young person’s gambling addiction service goes live. It is part of an expansion of treatments promised in the NHS Long Term Plan, with referrals for both young people’s services starting in this month.”
The National Centre for Behavioural Addictions, where the new clinic will reside, is based in London. NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Health needs are constantly changing, which is why the NHS must never stand still – 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. However, the NHS should not be left to pick up the pieces – gambling and internet firms have a responsibility to their users as well as their shareholders and should do their utmost to prevent rather than cash in on obsessive or harmful behaviour.”
Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, director of the national centre for internet and gaming addictions, added: “The centre for gaming and internet addictions is the first and only specialist service on the NHS. I am delighted to be leading it and grateful to the NHS for recognising the problem, which will ultimately see us helping thousands of children and young people.”
The UK’s first clinic treating gaming addiction arrives in the wake, as we reported, of the World Health Organisation officially classifying gaming disorder as a mental affliction. However, that move met opposition from the games industry: the ESA and the European Games Developer Federation issued a joint statement at the time saying: “The evidence for its inclusion remains highly contested and inconclusive.”
For further information, keep an eye on NHS England’s news webpage.