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  • Hoarding is a mental health disorder and needs therapy, compassion, empathy and professionalism. Mice and other pests can be a symptom but it does not mean you are a dirty person.

Hoarding is a mental health disorder and needs therapy, compassion, empathy and professionalism. Mice and other pests can be a symptom but it does not mean you are a dirty person.

March 17, 2022

I recently posted a social media question asking if someone within the military community who had been diagnosed with a hoarding disorder (HD) would speak to me about coming on the 'Declassified' podcast.

Now I know there are people out there within this community that read and listen to the information I put out, yet I received nothing (I usually get a great response and generally the armed forces cohort are always willing to speak about trauma, mental health etc and I believe as a group we way ahead of the curve and have been for some time). Not only did no-one comment or direct message me but the comments in the post almost mocked the disorder and most confused hoarding with collecting. I don't believe for one second that this was intentional (the mocking) but I believe that we do not see this as a genuine mental health problem, more a hygiene or organising issue.

I don't think we would have had the same response if I had mentioned PTSD, probably because it is spoken about and the stigma around trauma is almost non-existent within the veteran space. The work we (Combat Pest Control) do with some of our clients (especially in supported housing) has highlighted the need for better awareness and education to support those living with this often 'shameful, disempowered and lonely' mental health disorder.

The title of this article was from a conversation I once had with a neighbour of someone who we were supporting with the 'clearance' part of treatment. When asked what they thought a hoarding disorder was, well, they had no idea, zero, no information other than the general narrative around tidiness. So what is it? From a recent mini-podcast here is a brief definition: "Hoarding disorder is simply where someone ends up with an excessive number of items and stores them, or keeps them, usually in their house, to almost in unmanageable level, so that there's so much clutter that it becomes limiting to their life. It's actually an anxiety disorder and it's related to OCD, so obsessive compulsive disorder" - Dr. Vanessa Moulton.

How can landlords support a resident with a hoarding disorder?

1. Empathise and show compassion.

2. Do not just clear belonging, there may well be emotional attachment (refer to point 1)

3. Highlight the current risks/hazards and present them to the tenant (refer to point 1).

4. Implement an appropriate fire detection system.

5. Engage therapists, GPs, MH teams etc (refer to point 1).

6. Carefully plan to remove items (refer to point 5).

7. Remove risk items according to the pan (refer to point 1).

8. Provide aftercare and follow-up visits (refer to point 1).

Compassion is so important as HD often coincides with another mental health issue and directly links with increased levels of anxiety and depression. As a company we have also found cases of substance abuse and addiction which leads to issues with the clearance and the individuals treatment.

Case study video - HERE. If you need support with hoarding and making an environment a safe place for the individual and community, please contact me on here or via email at operations@combatpestcontrol.com


Michael Coates

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