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New online OCD treatment previewed

Researchers from Curtin University in Perth are developing an online program for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) thanks to a $460,000 grant from the Department of Health and Ageing.

Called OCD? Not Me! the program is aimed at young people aged 12 to 18 and is the first national e-mental health strategy that aims to provide assistance to thousands of Australians while in their homes.

Associate Professor Clare Rees – the principal investigator on the project alongside co-investigator Dr Rebecca Anderson – said people with OCD can become absorbed in negative thoughts and behaviours that control their lives. To rid themselves of these thoughts and behaviours, people with OCD do certain things repeatedly and have strong compulsions.

“This can include repeated hand washing, checking of doors, switches and appliances, to having to complete mental checklists or keep objects in straight lines,” Rees said. “When OCD is severe, the obsessions can be extremely distressing for a young person and impacts their academic, social and family life.”

The online program will help young people with the condition through giving tips and strategies that their families may use in defeating the anxiety disorder.

Associate Professor Rees said that online treatments were a cost-efficient and accessible method to provide treatment particularly for those who are reluctant to undertake face-to-face therapy or who lacked access to services.

Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Jacinta Collins, who got a sneak peak at the program last week, said that around three in every 100 people – or over 450,000 Australians – will develop OCD at some point in their lives.

“The Labor Government has committed a record $2.2 billion to mental health reform over five years to expand accessibility of evidence-based mental health services and build a cohesive mental health system,” she said.

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