The Peer Response Team was formed upon the recommendation of the 2009 SF Task Force on Compulsive Hoarding and is funded under an Innovations Grant from MHSA. Peer Responders all have lived experience with collecting and accumulating. We use our experience to provide non-judgmental, harm reduction-based, one-on-one peer support often including multiple home visits. We also give community presentations that message anti-stigma and discrimination, empowerment, and the possibility of recovery. We currently facilitate a growing range of support and treatment groups on-site at MHASF.
Most of us like to keep possessions that bring us comfort or appear to have value. But when one’s daily activities and quality of life are compromised by an accumulation of these things, then a person might have a challenge with compulsive hoarding.
- is a serious and treatable behavior.
- can pose a risk to health, safety, and housing.
- affects individuals, families, and communities.
Causes of compulsive hoarding may range from not having the physical ability to throw things away to co-occurring mental disorders and/or substance abuse. We consider the problem to be serious when it prevents the use and enjoyment of living spaces, causes significant distress, affects your relationships or ability to function.
How many people are affected?
An estimated 1-2 million Americans collect or have difficulty discarding objects to the point that their belongings impair basic living activities. It is estimated that 12,000 to 25,000 adults in San Francisco have hoarding behaviors. Hoarding is often isolating and hidden. Typically only the most severe cases are reported to police or public health departments.
What are the signs of compulsive hoarding?
- Accumulating objects in your home, car or office.
- Difficulty discarding or parting with objects.
- Compulsively acquiring free items such as advertising, flyers, paper napkins and straws from restaurants, or newspapers or magazines from sidewalk stands.
- Compulsively purchasing items simply because they are “bargains” to have as “extras” or to give as gifts someday.
- Feeling distressed or overwhelmed by the amount of your possessions
- Interference with everyday life, tasks, and relationships.
There is help for those who hoard
The Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) already provides a free weekly Peer Support Group as well as Two (2) 16-week clinician led Treatment Groups.
In July 2011, we began the Peer-led Hoarding Support Team, a free service for all San Francisco residents. A team of trained Peer Responders is now on-call to assist with any problems associated with compulsive hoarding and cluttering.
FREE Peer Responder services include:
- Rapid peer response
- Non-judgmental listening and support
- On-going contact
- Information and referrals
The Mental Health Association of San Francisco advances the mental health of the people of San Francisco and leads the global community in advocacy, education, research and supports that promote recovery and wellness while challenging the stigma associated with mental health conditions.