Charles O’Bryan of Ohio hoards tools, electronics, and a jumble of other items that end up piled inside and outside his house. O’Bryan, 52, who was placed on probation for hoarding-related health code violations, collects things, often fixing them to give away or sell at flea markets. Authorities say huge piles of hoarded items like those at O’Bryan’s home create health and fire hazards, reports the Associated Press.
Mental health experts say compulsive hoarding – failing to discard a large number of items with no apparent use and limited value – is not new. Communities have begun recognizing it as a mental disorder. A Cincinnati judge is trying to get to the root of the problem by requiring mental health treatment for severe hoarders as a condition of probation. “The last thing I want to do in these cases is send someone to jail, but I have found that the threat of jail is what makes them get help,” said Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Russell Mock. Mock set up a program with Centerpoint Health, a behavioral health care agency that provides counseling and treatment. “These are criminal cases where you often have to lock people up or remove them from the situation because of health or safety issues, and six months later it’s all back again,” said Mock.