‘Inspiring and thought-provoking’ conference on anxiety

REPRESENTATIVES of the one in ten people across the country who suffer from a phobia and the one in 30 who suffer from obsessive behaviour disorder (OCD) were among those attending our “inspiring and thought-provoking” conference focused on their conditions.

The free conference, entitled ‘Overcoming Anxiety’, allowed sufferers to hear experts in the field explain the latest thinking about the causes of phobias, anxiety and OCD and the techniques used to deal with them.

The conference on 14th March, attended by a capacity 100-strong audience at Bath Royal Scientific and Literary Institution, featured advice from retired consultant clinical psychiatrist Dr Keren Fisher and an inspirational talk by 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. Anxiety expert Dr Chris Williams, who is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow and president of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), explained how negative thoughts can lead to anxiety and depression and how sufferers should respond to them.

The TOP team gave a presentation about the charity’s ongoing joint research project with Dr Paul Salkovskis, Bath University’s Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science, which seeks to understand why people suffering from OCD wait so long before seeking professional help—typically 12 years. The project is funded by a grant awarded by the university to TOP.

Afterwards, our development officer Trilby Breckman, said: “This was an inspiring and thought-provoking evening that will have given great hope and reassurance to those suffering from anxiety-related conditions that their fears can be treated effectively.

The full conference will be available to view on YouTube shortly. 

 

 Grant leads to successful launch of Cardiff branch

TOP has launched 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 phobias and OCD described the provision of treatment for sufferers in Wales as “woefully inadequate”.

Professor Paul Salkovskis, Bath University’s Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science, speaking on BBC Wales’ Newyddion 9 programme, had 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.

The Waterloo Foundation 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.

The launch of the new group attracted the attention of Radio Cardiff who interviewed our development officer, Trilby Breckman, on air on 23rd February. Subsequently, an article also appeared on the BBC website. To read it, go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-39353361

 

 Jersey branch celebrates 25th anniversary

ON 27th February our Jersey branch celebrated its 25th anniversary with the founder and group organiser Celia Scott Warren being interviewed on Radio Jersey about TOP’s work. She urged sufferers of OCD and phobias to seek help and explained that how TOP uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and that the organisation was complementary to the professional services.

TOP Jersey was the third group to open in the British Isles and its launch followed advice and encouragement from TOP UK founder, the late Celia Bonham Christie MBE. Following the group’s inaugural meeting on 27th February 1992 a team of supporters was formed, which was enhanced by recovered members and relatives of sufferers of OCD and phobias. TOP Jersey has two local patrons, and a committee, as Jersey is a separate jurisdiction from the UK.

At a celebratory dinner on 3rd March, Celia thanked everyone in our current and past teams, and also Mind Jersey, the Association of Jersey Charities, Moore Stephens and others for their support. She also thanked everyone at TOP UK, including development officer Trilby Breckman, the TOP UK patrons and clinical advisers, her fellow TOP trustees, and Joan Bond for her help in TOP Jersey’s early years.

Celia also took the opportunity of the anniversary to thank the Association of Jersey Charities for their support over the years: “As a member we very much appreciate the grants we have received since we became a local charity. These grants have enabled us to continue our work. We thank the Association and other funding bodies for their help over the years.”

 

 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, e-mail 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.