Supporting people who compulsively hoard
Hoarding can be defined as collecting and failing to discard of excessive quantities of goods or objects. Hoarding is not uncommon and in most cases, not indicative of psychiatric illness. It can however become so severe as to cause psychological distress, physical impairment and a risk to health and safety. Although often covert, excessive hoarding can concern others, particularly when health & safety is compromised either because of the nature of materials hoarded or it ‘spilling over’ and affecting the wider environment or becoming a fire risk.
“Compulsive hoarding means excessively acquiring items that appear of little or no value and not being able to throw them away, resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter.” (NHS Choices)
What is Hoarding?
A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner. The items can be of little or no monetary value and usually result in unmanageable amounts of clutter.
Hoarding disorders are challenging to treat, because many people who hoard frequently don’t see it as a problem, or have little awareness of how it’s impacting their life or the lives of others. Many others do realise they have a problem, but are reluctant to seek help because they feel extremely ashamed, humiliated or guilty about it.
It’s really important to encourage a person who is hoarding to seek help, as their difficulties discarding objects can not only cause loneliness and mental health problems, but also pose a health and safety risk. If not tackled, it’s a problem that will probably never go away.