OCD Awareness Week begins, experts say resources are available
Throughout the week, here at home and around the world, a mental health disorder is receiving extra attention.
Sunday, to kick off Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Awareness Week, the 35W Bridge glowed teal. About one in one hundred adults in the United States have OCD, but experts say many aren’t aware.
“OCD is a mental disorder, it’s not like many people think ‘oh I like this straight, or I like this neat,’ it’s a mental disorder and it’s often severe,” William Schultz, president of OCD Twin Cities, said.
Just like this week, Schultz said the main goal of OCD Twin Cities is to raise awareness. He understands the importance of OCD Awareness Week as he considers himself in remission with his own struggles with OCD.
“In 2007, out of the blue, I began having these obsessions that I was going to contract HIV from the environment,” Schultz said, adding about the severity: “At its worst, you know, as probably spending five to eight hours a day obsessing, or doing behaviors related to the obsessions.”
While Schultz said for some, finding effective care and treatment can take up to 15 years, he was able to find a good fit after looking for five years.
“The professional gave me hope that I didn’t have to live this way for the rest of my life, because one of the worst things about OCD is you really feel like you’re losing your mind,” he said.
One thing he credits with overcoming his OCD was facing his fears – something that a unique and free anxiety clinic at the University of St. Thomas’ Interprofessional Center is doing while focusing on what it calls ‘exposure and response prevention.’
“Sometimes that involves facing your fears intentionally, but in a really gradual paced and supported way with your therapist,” Dr. Lynsey Miron, adjunct professor at UST who oversees OCD therapy while working with graduate students.
Dr. Miron said that those interested in seeking counseling services for OCD can call the Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services at 651-962-4820.
For Schultz, because he’s been able to overcome, he now helps others as an OCD therapist.
“It was kind of a nice way of turning something that was, you know, the worst thing that happened in my life into something that’s helpful,” Schultz said about helping others.