Overcoming Anxiety Event

Bookings are now open for our “Overcoming Anxiety” event in Bath on 14th March.  Guest speakers include Prof Chris Williams and Adam Shaw from the Shaw Mind Foundation.  More details can be found on our booking form.  The event is free and numbers are limited so please reserve a place if you would like to attend Bath Invitation and booking form

 Grant leads to launch of Cardiff group

TOP is launching a self-help group in Cardiff thanks to a £5,000 grant from the city’s Waterloo Foundation. It comes after a world expert on the two conditions described the provision of treatment for sufferers in Wales as woefully inadequate.

In December 2015, Professor Paul Salkovskis, Bath University’s Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science, speaking on BBC Wales’ Newyddion 9 programme described the provision of specialist treatment for OCD sufferers in Wales as “extremely poor” and called on health boards in the principality to address the problem.

Now TOP is inviting those in South Wales who feel they need support to get in touch to join the new group. For details, call our development Trilby Breckman on 01225 571740 (office) or 07763 826618 (mobile).

The Waterloo Foundation (Charity No. 1117535) is an independent grant-making foundation created in 2007 and based in Cardiff.  It aims to make grants totalling £6 million a year in support of world development, the environment, child development and communities in Wales.

 Book your free place at our spring conference

FOLLOWING the success of the conference in London in March last year, TOP is organising a similar event in Bath this spring. The conference, entitled ‘Overcoming Anxiety’, will be held at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square, Bath, from 5.30pm on Tuesday 14th March.

The speakers will include retired consultant clinical psychiatrist Dr Keren Fisher; Adam Shaw, a victim of anxiety and OCD for over 30 years, who founded the Shaw Mind Foundation to help others suffering from similar mental health issues; and one of our patrons, Prof Chris Williams, an expert on anxiety. Dr Williams is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow and president of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), the lead body of CBT in the UK. He will be talking on ‘Tackling Negative Thoughts and Building Confidence’.

Admission is free, but as places are limited please e-mail Trilby at info@topuk.org to reserve a ticket. Refreshments will be served from 5.30pm and the lectures will start at 6pm. There will be an optional two-course supper afterwards at the nearby Francis Hotel. Menus and prices will be available nearer the date.

Whopping big Christmas present

TOP received an early Christmas present in November in the form of a whopping £20,000 grant from Bath’s biggest charity, St. John’s Hospital.

John Thornfield, St John’s community grants officer, said: “One of the primary reasons we elected to support Triumph over Phobia with a grant towards their running costs was the recognition that there is currently very little support for those with OCD and phobias in comparison to other areas of mental health. Often it is the social stigma attached to such issues which prevents people from actively seeking help and we wanted to do our bit to help address this — both in terms of understanding and funding support.”

Our development officer, Trilby Breckman, commented: “This is a most generous donation that will go a long way is helping the many people in our communities who suffer, often in painful silence, from disabilities that seriously affect their lives, sometimes to the point of making it impossible for them to leave the house or go to work.

St John’s Hospital was founded in 1174 to provide refuge for the elderly, poor and sick. At the heart of the charity are the almshouses in and around the city centre. The charity also manages the distribution of grants to individuals and community organisations within Bath. Grants are awarded to organisations that have imaginative ideas for engaging people in community life and which share St John’s values and commitment to change. Primary areas of support are: health and well-being, housing, relationships, employment and skills and relieving isolation and poverty.

Grant for local research

TOP has been fortunate in securing a £1,675 research grant from Bath University to investigate how to encourage those suffering from anxiety problems to seek help. The money is part of £12,000 provided to five local groups looking to research local issues and enables their representatives to be appointed Visiting Research Fellows at the university as part of a wider programme where academics and community organisations are working together on locally-relevant research.

The money was made available through the university’s Community Matters programme in conjunction with the South West Foundation.

Olivia speaks about her phobia on BBC Radio 2

One of our members, Olivia, has been speaking on BBC Radio 2 about overcoming both her spider phobia and her blood/injury phobia as part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2016.  You can listen to her story here.  Jeremy Vine explored a number of conditions including anorexia, bipolar disorder, depression and self-harm and looked at whether politicians do enough to support mental health services within the NHS. You can listen to the other 9 stories here.

OCD sufferers wait years before seeking help — and then find it largely inadequate

PEOPLE with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) typically suffer for around 12 years before seeking help—and when they do, they are most likely to find it inadequate.

That was the disturbing message given by one of the world’s leading specialists on OCD and anxiety disorders to the Triumph Over Phobia conference ‘Exploring OCD’ in London. The event was recorded and can be watched here.

Paul Salkovskis, Bath University’s Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science, said that, typically, the condition developed to the point of disabling sufferers on average around the age of 20 but they did not seek help until around 12 years later, and only then in desperation. Often, by that time, the sufferer had developed further psychological complications.

Research showed that when they did overcome their shame, embarrassment and fear to seek help, 84 per cent of them receive ineffective treatment from therapists, he said.

OCD was an unnecessary illness: “We have fantastic treatments but they are being given too late.  .  .by that time their [the sufferers] life has often been emptied,” said Prof Salkovskis.

As many as one in 30 adults and one in 100 children suffer from OCD but, he said, the condition was poorly understood, even amongst professionals. “We have to make it possible for people to come forward earlier for help and that the help available is of good enough quality.” He highlighted the role of mental health charities such as TOP in raising awareness and providing support so that appropriate help can be sought.

And in the question-and-answer session at the end of the conference, Prof Salkovskis took issue with the media trivialisation of OCD, as in the Channel 4 TV programme Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, which, he argued, would deter OCD sufferers from seeking help. He said that when he complained to Channel 4 their response was: “It has ratings.”

Fellow OCD expert, Frederick Toates, Emeritus Professor of Biological Psychology at the Open University, described OCD as “an awful condition that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy” and described its similarities and differences to addiction. He also explained how certain drugs—serotonin uptake inhibitors—could alleviate the condition. Interestingly, he reported a three-week delay between the start of medication and the patient experiencing a change of mood, suggesting that it was causing the brain to reorganise itself.

He also pointed out that the intrusive thoughts which triggered overt OCD behaviours might prompt mental rituals instead.

Sharing the platform with the two professors was journalist Bryony Gordon, who caused a stir when she revealed her OCD condition in her column in the Daily Telegraph. She described how

compulsive thoughts, starting when she was aged 12, had led to her spending the 20s “in a spiral of self-medication with alcohol and cocaine.”

The meeting, held at the University Women’s Club in Mayfair on 16th March, was chaired by Triumph Over Phobia patron Carole Stone, CBE, the author and freelance radio and TV broadcaster. With more than 40,000 names in her electronic address book she’s been dubbed “London’s networking queen.”

Bath Half Marathon

We had five runners in the Bath Half Marathon on March 13th raising money for the charity while they pounded the streets for 13.1 miles. Cath Brown, Stu Ireland, Jack Mitchell, Jaime Tack and Felix Emery are raising money by various means. Felix has a Virgin Giving Page.  Please show your support and help the charity raise much-needed funds.

New Number

We have a new telephone number 01225 571740.

New Website for Jersey TOP

Our self help group in Jersey has a new website. It has lots of information including details of when and where the Jersey group meets. The Jersey group is a drop-in meeting so if you know anyone who wants help or needs more information please tell them to come to the group on a Thursday evening.

The Psychologist

Harriet Mills, a London Group Leader has written an inspiring article about her experiences of  running a TOP UK group which has been published in The Psychologist

Bryony Gordon

We are thrilled and delighted to announce that Bryony Gordon has agreed to become a Patron of TOP UK. Bryony is a well regarded journalist who writes for the Daily Telegraph. She has a weekly column in the weekend Stella magazine where she has recently written candidly about her OCD.

New Skype Group

We are launching a new video group for anyone who cannot access any of our local groups or have no group in their area.  The group will  meet once a week and members will link up via Skype.  It will run along the same lines as our face to face groups, so if you are interested in joining this new group  or want some more information then please get in touch.

Richmond Group

Our new Richmond group is now open.  Anyone who has a phobia, OCD or other recognised phobia is welcome to attend.  If you would like more information please call, email or tweet.

Bristol Group

Our Bristol group is open and is taking new members. If you would like to attend please get in touch by phone, email or tweet.