When people say, “someone seems to have OCD”, they refer glibly to an individual who must always line up items in a specific way or is overly meticulous, but Obsessive Compulsive Disorder goes way deeper than that.
OCD is officially classified as a “mental health disorder, which can disrupt academic, social and vocational functions, with the presence of recurring obsessions, unwanted thoughts, compulsions and repetitive actions that interfere with people’s lives”.
As far back as 1990, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared OCD among the top ten causes of disability in the world. Other studies have indicated that “OCD affects as many as two to three per cent of all children.
Among adolescents with OCD, few receive a correct diagnosis and even fewer the proper treatment, and as many as 10 per cent have attempted suicide”.
With these sobering statistics in mind, and following the diagnosis of their son with the condition, the Marville family decided to raise awareness about OCD and learning disabilities in Barbados, with the establishment of the G.
Halley Marville Trust.
The launch of the trust’s inaugural event, a three-day workshop at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, represented a breakthrough in a 21-year journey for the Marville clan, said trust secretary and Marville’s daughter-in-law, Janis Marville.
“When God allows you to go through challenges, there is a redemptive purpose behind it; it’s just you don’t see it when it is happening, because it is hard to make sense of it. You can only do so as you reflect and look back on the path you have taken,”
Her son’s double-diagnosis of dyslexia and dyspraxia at the age of 11 took her by surprise, a teacher herself “specially trained to teach children with learning difficulties.
“I figured if I had a child with such I’d be able to spot it. Nevertheless, he did well in the Common Entrance Examination, but after going to secondary school he met some challenges which led to a diagnosis of OCD.”
The Marvilles’ quest to find relief for him from the strict routines of his illness led them to the OCD treatment centre in Taunton, England, and to a therapist, and OCD patient, Dr Craig Shirley.
After one week of intensive treatment, Dr.
Shirley “gave us our son back. Since then, he has gained passes in five CXC examinations and is now at college in the UK,” the mother said.
Both Janis, and her daughter Ysanne, an educational psychologist who works at the same treatment centre her brother attended in England, said families affected by OCD require “support, empathy and compassion, rather than the stigma, rejection and shaming they tend to get. We are sure that with greater awareness and more access to resources that can assist them, children and adults will have better experiences.”
The G. Halley Marville Trust is named for the former headmaster of the Speightstown Boys’ School who gave the school its motto, “Only the best is good enough”.
Marville rose to become the first general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers and a priest in the Methodist Church.
Apart from OCD, the trust is also reaching out to people diagnosed with autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The three-day workshop featured sessions with families affected by these conditions, along with teachers, guidance counsellors, social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists.