The NHS National Centre for Gaming Disorders has received assistance requests from hundreds of gamers, including children and their family members. According to recently made public data, the gaming clinic has treated 745 people with gaming illness since it opened in October 2019. Video game playing is uncontrollably frequent in this illness, frequently leading to excessive sessions lasting up to or more than fourteen hours a day. Some severe examples have resulted in violent behaviour, avoidance of school and job, poor family ties, and social disengagement.
Between 2021 and 2022, the number of gamers seeking care at the clinic surged by more than 50%, while the number of family members receiving care for the disorder increased by 46%. The clinic’s staff, which includes NHS consultant psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and family therapists, treats those with gaming problem who are 13 years of age or older as well as their families.
Depending on each patient’s needs, the clinic may offer family consultations, individual or group therapy, parent courses, continuous parent support groups, and family therapy. The local NHS can send people to the clinic, or they can self-refer through the gaming clinic website if they feel they or their child could benefit from assistance.
5 Tips on helping a family member with a gaming disorder
It might be difficult to support a family member who has a gaming disorder, but there are a number of ways you can do so. Here are five suggestions to help you in this circumstance:
- Take the time to educate yourself on gaming problem, including its causes, signs, and effects on both mental and physical health. Understanding the condition better will help you relate to your family member and offer knowledgeable assistance.
- Encourage open dialogue by providing your family member with a secure location to discuss their feelings regarding gaming. Inspire them to talk about their experiences and any difficulties they may be having. Fostering trust and collaboration can be aided by actively listening to others and comprehending their viewpoint.
- Set boundaries: Specify the parameters and regulations that apply to gaming. Work out reasonable time restrictions for gaming with your family member and make sure they have time for other activities like physical activity, hobbies, and social connections. Setting limits can aid in leading a balanced lifestyle.
- Encourage your family member to take part in activities that can replace excessive gaming by suggesting alternatives. Encourage children to pursue additional interests and pastimes, such as volunteering, reading, athletics, and the arts. Give them assistance and tools to enable them to discover new pastimes and find fulfilment outside of gaming.
- Consider obtaining professional assistance if your family member’s gaming issue is seriously affecting their lives and they are unable to curb their gaming tendencies. A mental health expert who specialises in addiction or gaming problems, such as a therapist or counsellor, can offer the right direction, therapy, and support for them.
Always keep in mind that helping a family member with a gaming disorder involves tolerance, compassion, and understanding. It’s crucial to be encouraging while avoiding tolerating their bad gaming behaviours.
Despite having its headquarters in London, the national centre offers the majority of its services online, making it available to people all over England without requiring them to go. This accessibility guarantees that people in need of therapy can quickly get the aid they require.
The Minister for Primary Care and Public Health, Neil O’Brien, agreed that technology, particularly video games, may be beneficial but emphasised the significance of seeing signs of gaming addiction and keeping an eye on online activity. He lauded the gaming clinic as an illustration of the ongoing initiatives in the UK to address and cure addiction. By increasing access to essential support, the government has pledged to investing an additional £2.3 billion annually in mental health services by 2024.
The average age of gamers seeking treatment at the clinic is 17, with the age groups of 13 to 14 and 16 to 17 seeing the highest proportion of patients. Depending on each patient’s needs, the length of treatment might range from a single session to a whole year of family therapy. Patients typically receive treatment for three months on average, which entails 12 sessions.
Everyone is urged to come forward and seek care from the NHS gaming clinic if they think they might require assistance for themselves or a loved one dealing with a gaming condition. The centre offers a safe space where people may open up about their struggles without fear of criticism and discover efficient coping mechanisms for the disease. The first step towards enhancing mental health and general wellbeing is seeking help.