I follow the mental health charity MIND on Facebook and Twitter, because the subject of mental health is something that is very close to my heart.
As the daughter of a hoarder, I've experienced first-hand the practical and psychological impact of having a controlling parent and living with too much stuff.
And as a professional declutterer and organiser, I increasingly hear stories from apdo-uk colleagues about how they're being paid by mental health services to help hoarder clients in their communities tackle difficulties with excessive clutter.
In a recent Facebook posting, MIND stated that "the Government promised to value mental health and physical health equally - but mental health services continue to suffer greater cuts. At the same time, the demand for these services is rising."
So I've just signed MIND's petition to the UK Government, to request that funding for mental health services be maintained and not cut.
Here is what I wrote when I signed the petition - in honour of the counsellors I've had on my personal development journey, and all those who could benefit the same way if only the funding for mental health services was available to all....
++++++I’m signing petition this as someone who has both experienced mental health problems first-hand, and had clients who have relied heavily on mental health services.
I’m the Acting President of The Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers UK (apdo-uk), a not-for-profit unincorporated Membership association which aims to bring order to life for anyone affected by too much stuff.
apdo-uk’s Members offer non-judgemental advice and support to help people make decisions and create safe, practical solutions in sensitive situations, either in the home or in a business environment.Since hoarding was classified as a mental health disorder in the DSM-5 in 2013, an increasing number of mental health services and local authorities have approached our members to help hoarders in their communities.
Mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and OCD are common amongst our clients - many of whom are also children of hoarders, and/or over -controlling families. They often see being able to control the stuff they buy or bring into their homes as a way of finally being in control of their lives – despite the fact that it can often become out of control and become a danger to their health and wellbeing.In the past, some local authorities have attempted to tidy up and clean homes by bringing in extreme cleaners; sadly this usually does more harm than good, traumatising hoarders who could have been helped by understanding specialists capable of re-educating them to take control of their clutter, and their lives.
Hoarding has become such a big problem in the UK that it’s now on the Chief Fire Officer’s Association’s (CFOA) list of top eight priorities, which is why they’re organising the first ever UK Hoarding Awareness Week (26th May – 1st June 2014).With financial assistance from mental health services to pay for the services of professional organisers, evictions, injuries and deaths due to hoarding could become be a thing of the past.
So I urge the Government to make sure mental health services get their fair share of funding; because without financial support from mental health services, some of the most vulnerable members of our communities could conceivably continue to live in dangerous - even squalid - homes, and be a danger to themselves and others too.
POST SIGNING UPDATE: Dates for UK Hoarding Awareness Week 2014 have been changed to 19-25th May