Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners - Season Two

Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners - Season Two

Updated 21:06

Following last night’s accurate portrayal about the realities of suffering with OCD shown by the ITV1 programme ‘OCD Ward’, OCD-UK remain extremely disappointed that despite our lengthy discussions with Channel 4 earlier this year, they have chosen to commission a second season of Obsessive-Compulsive Cleaners, which is due to be broadcast this evening.

Tonight's broadcast is the first of a new eight part series, and is described by Channel 4:

This brand new series follows people who, by their own admission, cannot stop cleaning and carefully matches them with someone whose home is in dire need of a spring clean. Together these people with such contrasting compulsions will explore how their different behaviour affects their lives.

Whether it’s scrubbing an oven with a toothbrush for six hours, sleeping on the floor for fear of creasing pristine bed sheets or trimming the edges of the lawn with a pair of scissors, the cleaners will go to almost any length to make sure their homes are immaculate.

The series also features a new strand, The Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners Guide to…in which a team of obsessive cleaners, led by OCD diagnosed 27-year-old bleach fan Hayley, reveal their fears and phobias about everyday places and objects. Whether it’s a trip to the supermarket, a train journey, using a public toilet or visiting a café, the cleaners carry out a range of tasks, swabbing surfaces and objects along the way, pushing their boundaries and uncovering the bacteria hotspots we all come into contact with on a daily basis.

Whilst we have only seen trailers at this time and are yet to see the programme, we remain concerned by the previews and the text from the press releases that the programme will trivialise the devastation that OCD can cause, and appears to be edited in a way that mocks the behaviours of those depicted with OCD and we believe that this type of programming remains unjustifiable TV.

The programme title and emphasis of the programme still appears to add to the wholly inaccurate and false stereotype that OCD is purely about people that clean. In fact, the direct opposite is true, the NICE guidelines for OCD suggest one study showed that only 26.5% of people with OCD actually have cleaning compulsions. In fact, people with OCD that do have contamination/cleaning issues find it incredibly disabling and actually get no pleasure what-so-ever from their compulsive rituals, which seems contrary to the message that the Channel 4 programme depicts.

At a meeting with Channel 4 after the end of the first season, we met with the channel's disability advisor, along with representatives from Time to Change and Mind. During the meeting, the impression was given that the focus of the programmes would shift away from community cleaning, and there would be to more of a focus on looking at other aspects of OCD and treatment through involvement of a health professional with knowledge of OCD.

If our fears are realised, we will continue to engage Channel 4 to highlight our concerns and urge them to reconsider further series. We feel that this programme not only trivialises the severity of those that suffer with contamination obsessive fears, but also adds further to the misconception that OCD is primarily about cleaning compulsions. This misrepresentation about what OCD is all about can only lead to increased stigma and ridicule for those that suffer.

After viewing the first episode, we believe our concerns were valid, and in fact we have huge concerns that the programme is actually dangerously reinforcing false obsessive fears that those with OCD (contamination obsession fears) often have about germs/contamination.

We believe what Channel 4 have done with OCCleaners is damaging to those with OCD, both those participating on screen, those viewing off screen and also to those vulnerable people with clutter on screen.

We will be seeking further discussions with Channel 4, and speaking to other mental health charities through the week.

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