Managing OCD and anxiety through a mix of consulting medical practitioners and attending peer support groups in the community can significantly improve the lives of people living with these conditions says the Chief Executive Officer of WayAhead Elizabeth Priestley.
Ms Priestley’s comments coincide with the start of OCD and Anxiety Awareness Week which runs until Sunday and is being organised by Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterised by ongoing unwanted and intrusive thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to individuals feeling the need to carry out certain rituals in order to feel less anxious (compulsions). It is one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented of the anxiety disorders.
Ms Priestley spoke about WayAhead’s OCD and anxiety support groups as community-led programs which can help people manage these conditions. She emphasised that, with appropriate support, people with anxiety disorders or OCD can live full and productive lives.
“We know from our current support group participants that what helps them is the opportunity to share their experiences with people going through the same thing as them. Being able to hear from others who have already learnt how to manage their OCD or anxiety helps newer participants feel they can get on top of their condition.
“Often, a lot of people living with OCD or anxiety can feel quite isolated and feel like they are going through their experience alone. Our support groups help break this isolation and put people into contact with others who are or have gone through the same experience,” said Ms Priestley.
Ms Priestley also highlighted WayAhead’s Small Steps program which helps parents and teachers identify and manage anxiety in children and WayAhead’s Understanding Anxiety forums which educate people across NSW about anxiety and ways to manage it.
“Small Steps shows parents and teachers how to help children with signs of anxiety by first identifying it and then managing it early. We are working to stop anxiety disorders developing unchecked, potentially leading to lifelong mental health problems which can really change the lives of that child, their parents and the wider school community.
These community-based programs empower people across NSW, from all walks of life, to identify anxiety and OCD, in themselves or their loved ones, and give people with lived experience a platform from which to share skills to improve their condition.
“If someone believes that they are living with OCD and anxiety but have never sought any help, we would absolutely recommend that they see their GP who can help them work out their next step. Linking in with a support group and learning more about OCD and anxiety are great activities to complement professional medical help,” said Ms Priestley.
For more information about WayAhead’s anxiety support groups, Small Steps program and Understanding Anxiety forums, please visit the website – understandinganxiety.org.au