Information and advice on managing hoarding

Hoarding is a mental health condition that is often linked to other serious mental health issues, like trauma or clinical depression.

Many of us have difficulty throwing things away and like to keep things for sentimental reasons or in case they come in useful some time. This kind of behaviour becomes a problem if

  • The clutter in your home makes it difficult for you to manage everyday tasks, like accessing rooms or hygienically using your kitchen and bathroom
  • The clutter is causing significant distress or
  • It is impacting your quality of life or your relationships with other people

Problems caused by hoarding

Hoarding can cause serious problems in your home. It can

  • Lead to infestations of rats, mice, fleas and other pests
  • Increase the fire risk in your home
  • Make it harder for you to escape from your home if there’s a fire or other disaster
  • Cause structural problems in your home as serious problems can go undetected
  • Increase your risk of injury in your home
  • Lead to the council taking action against you for nuisance behaviour
  • Lead to eviction

Supporting someone with hoarding disorder

It’s important to be respectful if you are trying to help someone who is hoarding. Don’t dismiss their possessions or treat them as junk. Don’t expect people to be able to make quick decisions about letting go of items they’ve held on to for years.

Your priority should be the wellbeing of the person you are helping. Talk to them to find out how they are being affected by hoarding. They may allow you to start small by tackling one area or issue that is causing them stress.

Mind has useful information on helping someone who hoards and on living with someone who hoards.

Help to deal with hoarding

Hoarding is difficult to deal with on your own. You may feel like it isn’t a big problem or you may not want other people touching your things. But it’s important to get help if it’s causing problems in your life. You can

  • Talk to your landlord if you rent your home from the Housing Executive or a housing association
  • Look for a therapeutic cleaning and decluttering service
  • Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council run a hoarding support group once a month in Glengormley
  • Contact Advocacy for All who can suggest floating support services in your area who may be able to help

Decluttering and cleaning is only part of dealing with hoarding disorder. You may need mental health support to understand why you hoard and to help you stop.

Contact Advocacy for All if you need help to find mental health support.