Carers cope with obsessions

Janis Churchward has started an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Carers Support Group on the Sunshine Coast.
Janis Churchward has started an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Carers Support Group on the Sunshine Coast. Contributed

THEY say a mother's love knows no bounds and Janis Churchward is proof of that.

Janis has been tirelessly working to raise awareness of what is often an isolating and misunderstood condition, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and to let carers know they are not alone.

She began her mission after finding limited options of support while being a carer for her son Brett who has suffered from OCD for 36 years.

Janis' passion for bringing OCD into the spotlight has led her to feature on national radio, work closely with St Andrew's Hospital and liaise with world renowned professors.

She has determinedly lobbied major political parties to raise awareness of OCD and has taken her quest to another level, in supporting the carers of people with OCD through a one-stop website at www.ocdcarer.org and the foundation of the OCD Carers Support Group.

When you speak to Janis her passion for getting answers, finding better forms of treatment and providing solutions for sufferers of OCD and their carers is clear and she says she simply wants carers not to feel isolated and alone.

"People need to be aware that there is someone you can reach out to and through the OCD Carers Support Group I want to develop a support network that is driven by the sole purpose of delivering a better quality of life for sufferers of OCD and their carers," she said.

"The group strives to provide emotional and practical support, knowledge and improved access to resources for all stakeholders because ultimately I want to achieve the development of a specialised OCD program in our major hospitals."

Janis and her son Brett's journey has not been an easy one; and it is her personal journey and experiences that has made her realise there was an absolute need, especially for carers, to have a resource that would assist them in navigating through the confusing world of the mental health system.

"Throughout Brett's treatment I have come to believe the current form of treatment is considered inadequate and ineffective for a percentage of OCD sufferers," said Janis.

"This has also driven a desire in me to explore viable alternative treatments through research so we can have a specialised OCD program providing intensive behavioural treatments and ongoing support introduced into at least one Queensland hospital.

"Excessive hand washing, the often highlighted form of OCD, is just one example of this condition, so I fully understand the breadth of the emotional effect that results from caring for a loved one with OCD and the devastating toll it has on family, friends and ultimately care givers.

"I want carers to be able to interact with other carers going through similar experiences needing support and understanding, which is something that can often be highlighted in the country areas where there is a lack of social networking resources for carers of OCD."

The website which is also complemented by a Facebook page has a wealth of information available from fact sheets through to current research and meetings.

"I believe the greater knowledge we have the better we will be equipped in supporting our loved ones; and I hope through the website and support group that there will be a support as well as a sense of hope and a better quality of life for all sufferers and carers," she said.

The website www.ocdcarer.org also has a valuable survey for carers to allow Janis to collect demographic information on OCD carers in Australia and link them to help form more support groups.


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