Agency Roles

[learn_more caption=”Health Department”] The Health Department is responsible for enforcing State and Local Public Health Regulations. When the Health Department receives a hoarding related complaint, or referral, they must first conduct an inspection. Generally the Health Department will contact the occupant to try to make an appointment for the visit, but may make an unannounced visit. The Health Agent will request permission to inspect the premises and will be looking for violations of Massachusetts General Laws relative to nuisance conditions and the State Housing Code, as well as any local bylaws that may apply. If violations are observed, an order will be issued to the owner/ occupant to correct the violations and a timeframe will be given to accomplish those corrections. How the actual process will occur depends on the individual situation. If the violations are serious, there is the possibility that an Order to condemn the property will be issued, and the owner/ occupant will not be allowed to inhabit the property until violations are corrected. If the violations are not serious enough for a condemnation order, but there are serious Health and Safety concerns, then the timeframe to correct the violations will be very short, but the owner/ occupant will be allowed to remain on the property. If the violations are not a serious threat to public health or safety, then the timeframes will be longer. Overall, if there is a continued, good faith effort made by the owner/ occupant to correct the violations, the Health Department can work with the individual, and allow for a longer timeframe to come into compliance with the any order that has been issued.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”Mental Health”] According to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, hoarding disorder is a mental health condition characterized by one’s inability to discard possessions, regardless of their value, and the inability to use living spaces as intended because of the high volume of accumulated possessions. In addition, research shows that up to 50% of people struggling with hoarding disorder have at least one other mental health condition such as major depression, social anxiety, or generalized anxiety disorder. Thus, mental health professionals play an important role in helping manage a hoarding disorder case. Research studies show that a specialized cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for hoarding is effective in many cases. This treatment consists of structured assessment; strategies to increase motivation; case formulation and goal setting; skills training (organizing, problem solving, decision making); challenging beliefs about possessions; and practicing sorting, discarding, and non-acquiring. Individual treatment may take a year or more and consists of office appointments, home visits, and practice non-acquiring in triggering situations (thrift shops, swap shops, stores). Group therapy based on this type of CBT has also shown promising results. [/learn_more]