Hoarding to be tackled at international event

Hoarding web

Campaigners have said that the mental health condition is misunderstood, with up to 200,000 Scots affected

23rd April 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A conference this autumn will tackle one of Scotland’s least understood mental health issues – hoarding disorder.

Campaigners have said compulsive hoarding – where acquiring and saving items takes over a person’s life – is a growing issue in Scotland.

The latest estimates show as many as 200,000 people in Scotland (around 4% of the population) are affected by severe clutter – which makes hoarding more common than other better-known disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome.

Later this year, hoarding disorder will become a newly classified mental health condition, and will be included in the 11th edition of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases publication.

As well affecting a person’s health and wellbeing, compulsive hoarding can become a public health issue and serious fire risk. It is estimated the cost of clearing a house can be as high as £50,000, whilst the cost of removing and rehousing a child from a cluttered home can total £250,000.

Now Scotland is tackling the issue head-on, with an international conference on hoarding in October and a number of organisations, including the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and Perth and Kinross Council, adopting new approaches to helping hoarders.

“Until recently, health and social care teams were most likely to enforce ‘clear outs’ of people’s homes,” said Linda Fay, the founder of Life-Pod CIC, a social enterprise which helps people affected by clutter and hoarding.

“This is quite possibly the worst thing to do – as well as being extremely distressing for the sufferer, the recidivism (re-occurrence) rate following an enforced clear-out is 97%; making it an ineffectual exercise.”

“It is critical that those suffering with hoarding disorder are helped by trained professionals who understand the complexities of the condition.”

The international event – Hoarding, Health and Housing – is being organised by Life-Pod and will take place at the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, on October 4. It is aimed at health & social care, housing and emergency service professionals.