The Importance of a Mental Health Professional’s Help in a Hoarding Situation

Do you have a family member or friend whose home is extremely messy and has an excessive accumulation of certain things? Do they live in such cramped living conditions that their home is filled to capacity, leaving only a very narrow pathway that winds through stacks of clutter? If you see countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are piled with stuff, then your loved one may have a condition known as Hoarding Disorder. If that’s the case, the condition of the home and its occupants can be shocking and overwhelming and it is important to solve the problem sooner than later. However, if you have a family member or loved one who fits this description, don’t try and tackle this alone. Mental health professionals can help!

What is Hoarding Disorder?

Hoarding Disorder can be defined as “A persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distresses at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.” Hoarding Disorder can range from mild to severe symptoms. In severe cases, hoarding can result in:

  • Difficulty organizing items, often losing track of important items or documents in the clutter.
  • Messy piles or stacks of items, such as books, papers.
  • Disorganized collections of odd or sentimental items.
  • Possessions that crowd and/or overflow a space, making it unusable for the intended purpose, such as not being able to cook in the kitchen or use the bathroom to bathe.
  • Accumulation of food or garbage to dramatically excessive, unsanitary or even filthy levels.
  • Problems functioning and keeping oneself and others safe in the home.
  • Conflict with others who try to reduce or remove clutter from the home.

When to Call a Mental Health Professional

Since people with hoarding disorder often do not even realize that they have a problem, trying to help them can be very challenging.  They may become very agitated and angry – even feel betrayed – if anyone tries to dispose of their hoarded items or clean the home without their knowledge or permission.  However, when it gets to the point that their condition adversely affects daily functioning and becomes a health and fire hazard to anyone living in the home, it’s time to intervene and get the help of a professional. A mental health professional will help the hoarder understand their condition, explain why the way they are living isn’t normal, and go over what actions need to be taken to get the home back in order. This often includes the professional decluttering, decontamination, and deep cleaning of the entire premises. That’s where Bio Solutions comes in. 

How We Work with Family and Mental Health Professionals

We take the complexities of a hoarding situation very seriously and have as our goal to provide compassionate support through every step of the hoarding clean-up and decontamination process. We work with family members, caseworkers, and mental health professionals to help mitigate any feelings of anxiety or distress that may come up. It is important to determine which items should be kept and gently convince the hoarder why other items need to be discarded. We require that the occupant (s) not be present when our actual clean-up work takes place, since this experience could cause trauma that results in other mental health issues, such as severe anger, anxiety, or depression, and even lead to suicide.

Once all aspects of our hoarding clean-up are complete and we have restored the home to a functional living space, it can be re-occupied. But it doesn’t stop there. We offer follow-up services and access to a variety of resources and support so that hoarding behaviors can be treated and prevented on an ongoing basis. If you need help with a hoarding problem, don’t delay. We are here to help and hold your hand every step of the way!