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  • Catherine Benfield

How do I get help for OCD?


A picture of Cat surrounded by the cartoon sections of hospital, charities, Drs, books and advocates.


Hey Everyone!


Looking for help for OCD can feel like a big step to take - it can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time - but it's worth it. I’ve been advocating for OCD for over eight years now and I've learned a lot about getting support - I’m going to empty my brain into this post.


Connected to this blog is a fully updated Taming Olivia Information and Resources section so please check it out. I'm restricted to word count on a blog, but not in the information pages so you'll find loads more helpful information and links on those pages.


Or you can visit the individual sections here:



Sometimes, reading through written material may feel beyond our capacity. If you think that you might need urgent mental health care please check out this information from the NHS. There are always options for you and you are never alone.



Getting OCD help through Medical Professionals 


Very often the first place to seek help is through your medical professional. Depending on where you live, that could be a psychotherapist or a general practitioner. In the UK, the first step tends to be through your General Practitioner (GP). 


If you think medication will help you, it is a GP you will need to see for this also. 


To help address long waiting lists and heavy demand for GPs many areas of the UK now have self-referral therapy services. Your GPs surgery will give you the contact information although you can often find i tout yourself through the internet. These self-referral services often have different names depending on where you live and which NHS trust you belong to but again, entering ‘self-referral therapy in (your area)’ into a search engine should give positive results. 


When you self-refer you will be given the chance to explain a little about your symptoms and how they’ve been impacting you. You will get another date for a phone assessment which will take you through a range of questions about general anxiety, depression and/or OCD. You are asked to give a number in relation to these in terms of how many times each thing has affected you in the past two weeks or something similar. 


Some of the questions may not apply to you at all but it is still important that they ask so they can get a clear picture of you.


The results of these assessments will determine whether you will be going through to therapy, so make sure you don’t play anything down. Lots of us tend to do that when we’re talking about out mental health. 


You do not HAVE to share the nature of your intrusive thoughts your GP. I’ve written a lot about this in this post here so please check it out - it’s an important one.


If it is a child or young person who needs OCD support, your first step might be the teacher, or the schools Special Educational Needs and Disabilities coordinator (SENDCo). Ask them to make a referral to Children and Adolescence Mental Health Services (CAMHS) as soon as possible. There is a long waiting list. 


For any age, if you are struggling to see a professional because of wait lists, or any other obstacle please contact either OCD Action in the UK or the IOCDF outside of the UK.


There is a real lack of training in OCD amongst many medical professionals, through no fault of their own, so if you are worried that your one won’t understand, take some articles about OCD with you to help explain. You can get these here



Visiting the Hospital


Some treatment happens in hospitals either through in-patient or day-patient therapy. Hospital is also the place to go to if you feel your mental health has hit crisis point. I did this when OCD made me terrified I was a risk to my son, and I know a lot of unbelievably incredible, kind and compassionate people who have done the same. There is absolutely no shame in looking for crisis support - make sure you get the support you deserve.


Again, have a read now about how to disclose difficult intrusive thoughts so you have that information if you need it, and if you feel up to it, try to take some articles about OCD with you. 

 


Contacting the Charities


The OCD charities are incredible. The main two in the UK are OCD Action and OCD UK. They both have helplines and extremely helpful websites. Just for transparency here, I sit on the board at OCD Action - I work very closely with them now and have done as an advocate since 2017. I am repeatedly blown away by how incredible their work is. 


Outside of the UK is the IOCDF. A huge and amazing charity - please also check them out.


TOP - UK is a phobia and OCD charity that supports people with OCD through groups. I haven't worked with this charity yet but I've heard good things.  


Maternal OCD have a lot of information about perinatal OCD for mums and dads on their website. They do not have a helpline or advocacy service.



Books


One of the best defenses against OCD is knowledge. The more we learn about OCD the better our chances of recovery. There are hundreds of excellent books for all ages covering endless topics about OCD. You can find out about them here in out list. We believe this is one of the most comprehensive guides of OCD books out there so please have a read through.  



Advocates


Advocates are very often OCD lived experience experts. This means that although there is no formal medical training for most, they understand exactly what you’ve been through and can make helpful suggestions. I fall within this area! Because literally anyone can be an advocate, and because it’s very easy to accidentally give out incorrect information during these days of social media, it is important that you know how to keep yourself safe when using the services of advocates. You can find out how to do this here




An overview!


I’ve found that often a multi-pronged approach works best. So when I was first very poorly, I started the self-referral therapy process, and whilst I was on the waiting list I learned about OCD from books. During this wait time I also decided to start taking medication but that is a very individual decision to make. 


If you are feeling lost with the process or confused, which is understandable, it takes a while to get the hang of it, contacting your GP or medical provider and an OCD charity is a great place to start. 


So I think that’s about it! If you can think of anything else that will support people getting help for OCD please let us know and we’ll add it. 


And remember, this is a process that can bring up a whole world of emotions. There will be highs and lows but with help, eventually there will be more highs than lows. And that’s worth getting support for. 


Just a quick reminder to take a look at the pages to get helpful information and links that go way beyond what I've written here. And if you have any suggestions please let me know.




Sending you all loads of love,


Cat x




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