Hoarding is considered a standalone mental health disorder, and had been since 2013.
Hoarding disorder is different from the act of collecting. It is not a lifestyle choice. It is also different from people whose property is generally cluttered or messy.
Mental health disorders often associated with hoarding
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Signs of Hoarding
Someone who hoards may exhibit the following:
- Inability to throw away possessions
- Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
- Great difficulty categorising or organising possessions
- Indecision about what to keep or where to put things
- Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
- Suspicion of other people touching items
- Obsessive thoughts and actions. Fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future. Checking the bin for discarded objects
- Functional impairments, including loss of living space or social isolation. Family or marital discord, financial difficulties, and other health hazards
Hoarding and Fire Safety
Hoarding presents extra fire risks to individuals, these may include;
- Individuals may not be able to escape in the event of a fire incident
- Acceleration of fire spread and intensity by hoarded material
- Materials can increase smoke development
- May not want people to access their space. Meaning repairs on property and utilities not reported and corrected
Not only could the individuals living inside the property be at risk but also fire crews. When attending a fire there may be;
- Increased heat
- Reduced visibility
- Restricted access down narrow channels
- Structural instability due to heavier loads in the property
- Entrapment of crews
- Reduced search patterns
Hoarding Support through Lockdown
Karen, our Hoarding and Wellbeing Support Advisor explains;
“Supporting tenants with a hoarding disorder can be a difficult and challenging task. Trying to do this during a lockdown has proven to be even more difficult. Not being able to visit properties to assess what the clutter rating might be or be there to offer encouragement as an individual starts the first painful and worrying steps towards clearing their belongings, has proven to be problematic.
Despite these challenges, alternative ways of offering support have been found. Individuals are able to adapt to these changes which has been a great positive.
It’s not been easy working in this new way and adapting to the changes for both myself and the individual needing the support. Despite these unpredictable times we have proved de-cluttering can still happen.
Thanks to the wider team at Havebury, we have been able to identify our most vulnerable tenants. These tenants have then been offered the support they need.
Taking the time to listen to an individual can sometimes identify an underlying need for support and intervention. It is these conversations that can make such a difference to individual lives.
Hoarding is not a life choice.
It can be a debilitating mental health disorder that is often so misunderstood.
We need to see the person at the centre of the ‘clutter’, as this is the key to ongoing support.
Each individual holds the answers if we take the time to listen.”
If you, or someone you know would like to speak to someone about hoarding please contact your GP or call us on 0300 3300 900.