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Calls for Australia to offer specialist treatment for young video game addicts

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Article image for Calls for Australia to offer specialist treatment for young video game addicts

British children who are addicted to video games are set to receive specialist care to treat the condition, and there are calls for Australia to introduce similar measures.

The British National Health Service is opening a specialist clinic to treat young people with video game addictions.

Clinical psychologist at ySafe, Jordan Foster, said there is currently no similar service available in Australia, but gaming addiction is beginning to be taken more seriously.

“We’re really at the infancy of this actually being classified as a disorder, because of the World Health Organisation classification recently,” she told 3AW’s Tom Elliott.

“I think Medicare will go this way, but at the moment they’re not looking into it.”

Ms Foster said the lives of many young people are seriously impacted by gaming addiction.

“We know that young adults are really suffering with gaming addiction, but they don’t tend to seek much help because they don’t have a lot of support around them,” she said.

“In fact, we’ll see young people will actually not engage in employment, some don’t finish school and they tend to socially isolate themselves.

“People who are experiencing gaming addiction often don’t work, or they work very restricted hours and they don’t engage in social relationships, they don’t usually engaging in physical activity, and their sleep is really skewed as well.”

But the term ‘addiction’ is thrown around too freely when it comes to video games.

“If you spend a few hours playing Fortnite it’s really common for mum and dad to say ‘you’ve got an addiction, let’s do something’, and that’s not the case,” Ms Foster said.

“Three hours at the end of a night, for a bit of stress relief, is actually not bad. In fact, it can be helpful for people’s mental health.

“For people who have excessive gaming we generally see them play upwards of 45 hours a week.”

While no Medicare subsidised assistance is currently available for gaming addiction, those suffering can still get help.

“If people are suffering from gaming addition they can still go to their GP and get a mental health plan for something else. We usually see gaming addictions co-morbid with depression or anxiety, things like that,”Ms Foster said.

“It’s not that they can’t get support, it’s just that they can’t get support for gaming addiction as it stands right now.”

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