Why it's hard to help those who hoard

PUBLISHED: APRIL 8, 2021

A recent study by the Institute of Mental Health found that those helping people with hoarding disorder face challenges like resource constraints, pressure for quick-fix solutions and resistance from those they are trying to help. Groups trying to help find it hard to even enter their homes.

“My mum thinks that she has no problem and we sent her (to the Institute of Mental Health) for no reason.”

MR CHNG, A PART-TIME CUSTOMER SERVICE OFFICER, ON HIS MUM WHO HAS A HOARDING DISORDER. SHE WAS DISCHARGED AFTER A MONTH IN IMH, BUT THINGS DIDN’T IMPROVE.









Mr Chng, who declined to give his first name, shot this clip in his mother’s home. These were the sort of living conditions that forced his family to move multiple times during his childhood.




Some hoarding cases in Singapore





1. Ang Mo Kio, 2021

A 48-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries after a fire broke out at her flat on March 5 and engulfed the living room, which had a vast accumulation of combustible items in it.

2. Chin Swee Road, 2019

Keeping Hope Alive volunteers had difficulty walking into an 80-year-old woman’s 1-room apartment, which was infested with rats.







3. Commonwealth Crescent, 2019

A woman filled her flat with so much junk that she slept outdoors. When the ST visited in March 2021, bags of rotting food hung on the gate, and an odour and flies pervaded the place.

1 in 50

NUMBER OF SINGAPOREANS ESTIMATED TO SHOW HOARDING BEHAVIOUR IN THEIR LIFETIMES, ACCORDING TO A 2010 IMH STUDY


For some people, hoarding may be due to mental problems such as severe depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. For others, they experienced losses or stress, leaving them with an emotional void which they may try to fill with physical items.



Why do people hoard?
Why do people hoard?

SOURCE: ST REPORTS BY LINETTEE LAI AND YEO SHU HUI; ST PHOTOS BY YEO SHU HUI; VIDEOS BY MS FION PHUA/KEEPING HOPE ALIVE AND MR CHNG

PRODUCED BY: DENISE CHONG

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