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Resources
for schools & parents

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with Alicia Drummond

In light of the rise in the number of young people struggling with anxiety, we thought it might be helpful to explore one of the anxiety disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health problem which affects two in every one hundred people.   It is a complex disorder which can be difficult to understand for both the sufferer and their family and friends.  You often hear people joking about being a bit OCD when you see their immaculate laundry cupboard or categorised book collection, but those who suffer from OCD know it is absolutely no joke. So what is it?

Most of us have unwanted or unpleasant thoughts (obsessions) from time to time and many of us have habits or rituals (compulsions) that we carry out even though we know that they are not particularly logical. For example, we might wear a piece of clothing because we think it will bring us luck or touch wood to prevent bad luck.  So you could say that the vast majority of us are on the Obsessive/Compulsive spectrum to some degree. It becomes a disorder when the obsessions, and the compulsions which we think will keep us safe from the obsessions, disrupt our lives, cause distress, and occupy our time for more than an hour each day.

To help you understand what OCD might look like in every day life, imagine you have a friend or colleague who always has to check he has locked his locker three times before leaving the cloakroom.  It is always locked when he checks the first time, so you ask him why he has to check three times and he explains that if he doesnt someone will break into it.  To you this seems totally illogical, and it is, but not to him, and he wont be able to feel safe until he has completed his ritual.

Some OCD sufferers are aware that their obsessions and behaviours are not logical but even so they experience extreme distress if they have to deviate from their ritual because it is their way of temporarily alleviating painful emotions and intrusive thoughts.

OCD can manifest in some strange thinking and behaviour and can have a serious impact on people’s quality of life.

Here is a list of the most common obsessions:-

  • Worrying about dirt or germs
  • Worrying about bad things happening
  • Thinking about doing something wrong
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts
  • Worrying about hurting other people or about you being hurt
  • Feeling as if you must say, do or remember something
  • Wanting things done in a particular order
  • Having magical thoughts or superstitions
  • Worrying about offending God

Here is a list of the most common compulsions:-

  • Checking and rechecking things
  • Ordering or arranging things until they are ‘just right’
  • Counting, repeating and re-doing things
  • Touching tapping or rubbing things
  • Washing and cleaning excessively and repeatedly
  • Asking questions and asking for reassurance
  • Hoarding things
  • Re-reading or re-writing things

Most people with OCD feel embarrassed and ashamed about their symptoms and may worry that they are going mad.   It can be a deeply distressing and debilitating condition for the sufferer, and their friends and family who can find the condition frustrating, illogical and strange.  If you are living with someone with OCD, try to understand that these obsessions and compulsions are coping strategies which help the person feel safe even if only temporarily.  They need our empathy.  Scorn will feed their feelings of shame and exacerbate their anxiety and compulsions.

Overcoming OCD can be challenging and will take time.  It invariably requires professional help to enable the sufferer to change their thoughts and feelings and early intervention is key.  If you know someone is anxious, they start to engage in habits or rituals and become distressed when they are not able or allowed to carry out these behaviours, go gently.  They need our understanding, our patience and professional help from a qualified therapist.

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Other resources you might be interested in:

Managing Negative Thought Patterns by Clare Nicholas, School Counsellor at Pipers Corner

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, we thought we’d share this blog written by Clare Nicholas on negative thought patterns. Clare shares her advice on how to manage negative thought patterns, practise self-care, and notice your positive attributes. This is a great one to share with your child/pupils.

Understanding ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitits) CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) by Alicia Drummond, Parenting Expert & Therapist

It is hard living with ME/CFS, patients feel really unwell and miss out on day-to-day life because they simply don’t have the energy to participate. People with ME/CFS often have to make major lifestyle changes to manage their illness, and all of this can make them more susceptible to developing mental health issues, such as depression. Alicia discusses what ME/CFS is, and gives practical tips for parents with children with ME/CFS.

Supporting young people in an uncertain world following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by Alicia Drummond, Therapist & Founder of The Wellbeing Hub

The past two years have taken their toll on the wellbeing of so many people and the last thing we all needed was more uncertainty and drama, but here we are, Russia has invaded Ukraine, and none of us knows how this war will play out. Amongst children and young people anxiety levels are high, and many are feeling frightened as they grapple, perhaps for the first time, with the possibility of war in Europe, and nuclear threat. We share our top tips on how to support young people through these uncertain times.

Eating Disorders with Alicia Drummond, Therapist & Founder of The Wellbeing Hub

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week and with an estimated 1.25 million people living with an eating disorder in the UK it is helpful to know what we can do in terms of prevention and support. We discuss what an eating disorder is, how to spot the signs, and how to prevent your child from suffering with an eating disorder.

Revision & Mocks: Advice for Parents by Lizzie Mitchell, University Lecturer & Tutor

January will have been a busy time for those sitting mocks in preparation for the summer.  Some will have been reassured when they received their results, while others may have felt disappointed. As parents it can be difficult to know how best to help.  So, what can we do? Lizzie Mitchell, an experienced tutor and university lecturer, shares her top tips and advice for parents.

The Importance Of Hugs For Self-Esteem & Wellbeing In Adolescents with Alicia Drummond

As our children enter adolescence, they will start to reject things which seem childish to them, and that may include our gestures of affection.  As parents we generally accept their rejection of childhood toys and interests but struggle when we are in the firing line. It is a sad day when a previously affectionate child pulls away from a hug or shuts down your expressions of love. For parents, the loss of intimacy can feel devastating, but what we sometimes fail to appreciate is that even though they are the ones doing the rejecting, they will experience a sense of loss too. In celebration of National Hugging Day, we discuss the importance of hugs for the self-esteem and wellbeing of young people.

Coping with Omicron Uncertainty with Alicia Drummond

The past twenty months have taken their toll on the wellbeing of so many people and the last thing we all needed was more uncertainty and drama, but here we are, Omicron is with us, and life has become unpredictable once more. We share our tips on how to support your children and cope with the uncertainty of life with the new Omicron variant.

How To Support Your Child’s Mental Health During Lockdown

We are starting to see an increase in Covid restrictions again and the cracks are showing. Parents are telling us that they are not ok and many are concerned about the mental health of their children, both young ones and teenagers.  We are in a period of collective mourning with many of us grieving our loss of certainty, of social interaction, of familiar habits and routines.  We want our old lives back and we want it now. We share our tips on how to support your child’s mental health during these uncertain times.

In conversation with Emma-Jane Taylor On Teens & Mental Health

Alicia went onto the Emma-Jane Show’s podcast to discuss all things teens and mental health. This is a very open and honest conversation about recovery, resilience and Alicia’s journey to where she is today. 

Family Meals

In this blog, we consider the advantages of eating together as a family – something we have all apparently been managing to do more often since lockdown.

Talking About Race And Ethnicity With Children & Teens

Following the horrific death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been asked for advice on how to talk to children and teenagers about racism. 

Online Grooming & Radicalisation [how to spot the signs and what to do]

With young people online more than ever, those who would seek to influence, radicalise or groom them via social media and gaming will be busy. Find out how to support your child and help them stay safe.

Free Listening Sessions For Teens In Particular Need Of Support

We are working with some wonderful therapists across the country and some are offering two free, half hour emergency sessions to teenagers who might be particularly struggling.

How To Talk To Your Child About Coronavirus

A pandemic can be a scary time for parents and children alike. So here are some pointers for keeping young people calm and holding a panic-free conversation about Coronavirus.