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On Saturday OCD-UK launched our ‘Are you a little bit OCD?’ at Leicester's Riverside Festival. This popular festival offers boat trips, live music, a variety of food stalls from around the world, displays and an exciting choice of activities for all ages, making it a fun packed weekend, and the OCD-UK volunteer team had a fantastic response from festival goers.
Take a look at some of the pics below and see some of the fun the team had.
The objective of the ‘Are you a little bit OCD?’ project is to engage the pubic and change perceptions about OCD and mental health stigma, all through meaningful conversation.
The flippant use of the term ‘I'm a little bit OCD about X’ that seems to be used in everyday conversation is still something that many people with OCD find upsetting and remains a stigmatising barrier to helping those that suffer with this often misunderstood disorder feel that they can be open and talk freely.
Throughout the project our volunteers, all with first-hand experience of OCD, will endeavour to engage members of the public in conversation sharing their experiences with a view to encouraging them to think differently about the way they perceive both OCD and mental illness in general.
By using the controversial phrase for our project title and by posing the ‘Are you a little bit OCD?’ question to members of the public during our conversations we believe that by the end people that our project will engage will have come to understand that use of the phrase is a unhelpful and often stigmatising barrier for those that suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
The Are you a little bit OCD? Project is funded by Time to Change, England’s biggest programme to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.
So through our project we aim to change perceptions about OCD, one conversation at a time.
So why does trivial use of the OCD term upset people?
People often confuse OCD for pernickety personal quirks of choice or preference but Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is far more serious than people realise. The key is in the name and the word Disorder which is defined ‘a psychological pattern associated with distress or disability’.
Most people who choose to have set behaviour like having their home tidy or certain order for their CD collection do so out of preference and choice which leads to some form of satisfaction, but which is NOT OCD.
By describing such behaviour as OCD is a subtle way of saying "oh, yeah we all do that, no big deal."
People affected by OCD find their behaviour (the compulsions) dictated through distress caused by the relentless obsessive thoughts and anxiety which frequently leads to periods of disablement, rather than some kind of satisfaction.
Over recent years we have seen fantastic changes in the way people view mental illness, especially the younger generation and young adults, this is partly down to the fantastic efforts of charities like Time to Change and OCD-UK.
However, in our experience OCD has been somewhat left behind and seems to be an illness that is often trivialised and even joked about with people often saying ‘I’m a little bit OCD about that’. The result is that those that suffer with OCD remain stigmatised and made to feel uncomfortable discussing their illness, even with family and friends let alone employers.