A few months ago, Channel 4 made the decision to broadcast a reality series in which ‘compulsive cleaner Linda Dykes leads a team of like-minded people to help clean Britain’s dirty homes and filthy public spaces’.
I wasn’t surprised by the furore that the programme caused within the ‘OCD community’ – the term OCD was being used to describe people who claimed to enjoy their cleaning (I’m yet to hear of someone who enjoys their OCD)
OCD-UK, a charity that I have been involved with for many years and who I have a lot of respect for, contacted Channel 4 along with Paul Salkovskis who is one of the most respected clinicians and researchers working within the field anxiety disorders in the UK.
They also contacted Time to Change, the campaigning group that aims to “end mental health discrimination” and who developed the pledge or ‘bindin promise’ aiming to end stigma that Channel 4 had happily signed.
What followed was pretty unbelievable, and you can read the full story and what Paul Salkovskis had to say about it here.
However, what really worried me was the notion that there is a hierarchy of mental health problems. What would Time to Change have done if the programme had featured people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? I’m not sure that they would have had the same reaction.
You see, the sad truth is that OCD is still the poor cousin when it comes to mental illness. It’s still seen as funny (and you can see my endless posts on that particular bee in my bonnet here and here), it’s still seen as a quirk rather than a serious mental illness.
I have said it again and again – people lose their jobs, their marriages, their homes and their lives to OCD. People kill themselves because they cannot cope with the anxiety and the worry that comes with this illness.
But we didn’t see that in the programme, did we?
Obsessively compulsively yours,