Mental Health Awareness Week

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life, however what can begin as normal, everyday anxiety, can develop into something more serious, like a panic, phobia, or obsessional disorder.

1 in 6 of us in the UK struggle with mental health issues at any one time, and each year 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression.

For one week each May, Mental Health Awareness Week raises awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues.  The aim this year, is to promote ways to reduce anxiety in everyday life.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2014It is thought about 60,000 people in Sussex suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  People with OCD experience recurrent, unwanted and distressing intrusive thoughts or repeated, and prolonged behaviours such as cleaning or checking or mental rituals.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the NHS Trust that provides mental health services to Sussex will be using social media to engage with members of the public about OCD.

Sussex Partnership answered peoples questions about OCD on Twitter on Wed (14th May) between 12-1pm, using #OCDtweet:


Leading the discussion was Dr 
Clara Strauss, a clinical psychologist at the NHS Trust.  She said:

On average people with OCD wait for 10 years before seeking help and social media is a great way of letting people know about OCD and how they can find help sooner rather than later.

The tweet chat is for people who have OCD, those who think they might have it, for friends or family members of people with the condition and for healthcare professionals working with people with OCD.

Since November Sussex Partnership have been piloting a new OCD Clinic.  In the first four months there have been over 100 referrals and three therapy groups are up and running in the clinic.  The OCD Clinic offers comprehensive assessments and evidence-based interventions based on a behaviour therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention.

ocd-uk logoOCD UK is the charity dedicated to improving the mental health and well-being of almost one million people in the UK whose lives are affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Ashley FulwoodThe charity’s Founder and Chief Executive is Ashley Fulwood from Crowborough.

Ashley was was so tormented by chronic OCD that after using the toilet he he would spend hours scrubbing himself so clean that he hurt.

He said he only knew what was wrong with me after I saw it on an episode of Casualty on TV.

But Ashley believes recovery from OCD is possible provided the right treatment is offered:

I still have obsessive thoughts, but the good news is that I am rarely responding to the compulsive urges anymore.  However, as someone with OCD, what I want to hear is that this illness is curable.  Hearing this will offer me hope in my future and give me the belief that OCD is not a part of me, but simply an experience in my life that one day I will look back on.

Ashley runs a Support Group from at the Camden Centre in Tunbridge Wells once a month.