The Minnesota Hoarding Task Force has been created by a group of licensed and certified mental health professionals, building inspectors and other experts to help the many Minnesotans who struggle with hoarding disorder.
"Hoarding is a mental health disorder and a matter of public safety," said Janet Yeats, president of the task force. "Hoarding behaviors impact tens of thousands of Minnesota residents and it is imperative that community assistance be made to respond to that impact."
Anxiety is at the root of most hoarding situations. Most hoarders are driven by fear for their safety or well-being, low self-esteem, depression or difficulty with relationships. An economy that makes people anxious about jobs and finances can also be a trigger.
Last July, a man died in his Linwood, Minn. home after firefighters had trouble getting inside the house, which was clogged with magazines, newspapers and books.
Another hoarding case in Braham, Minn. forced the Animal Humane Society to seize 20 cats from a woman who was hospitalized on an emergency order to get mental health treatment.
The renter's family said they tried to get her help for years, but she refused. In fact, family members said she even tried to hide her trash-hoarding compulsion by dumping bleach on the floor and stairs to mask the smell.
What differentiates collecting from hoarding? Here's a few questions to ask:
- Are you/they hiding stuff?
- Are you/they going into debt to collect more?
- Can you/they easily locate the items you're hanging on to?
More than 15 million people struggle with hoarding disorder – many in Minnesota. The task force provides a support system for individuals, families and communities affected by hoarding. They also want to educate the public and government officials on how to deal with the problem.
More information: http://thehoardingproject.org/awareness
Video: How does hoarding start?