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a blog by Chris Barrow

Asto - for better mental health, not for profit

"Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a significant mental health problem which affects around 2% of the population. OCD symptoms tend to vary from person to person. These can include intrusive, unwanted, and difficult to control thoughts, images, or urges (obsessions) relating to harm/danger, contamination, sex, religion, need for symmetry and acts that are repeated physically or mentally (compulsions or rituals) such as cleaning/ washing, checking, counting, ordering, and many other repetitive behaviours."

Monday morning - here we go again after a few days of rest (?) and celebration.

I woke at 04:00 this morning, with a cacophony of thoughts in my mind:

  • a sense of unpreparedness around my trip to climb Gran Paradiso and Mont Blanc - I'm not fit enough, I don't have all the kit, will the altitude, the weather or my acrophobia stop me, will the flight be cancelled by Easyjet, what if they lose my luggage?

  • my task list and emails, even after working for 6 hours yesterday - will I ever get to the end of the list, how many more emails will have come pouring in overnight?

  • my slides for the Align Growth Summit in Dubrovnik in 2 weeks from now - their compliance people have come back with suggested alterations - asking me to take certain things out and add others - and asking for it "yesterday";

  • My client workshops in Leeds this week - will we be able to maintain the momentum of this quarter's tour?

  • my second son's stag this weekend - will I be able to stay in reasonably good shape, given my upcoming physical challenges?

There is one thing though - I've spent most of my adult life waking early with thoughts like this (and I guess you have as well) - but the list always gets done, the emails get answered and life's challenges are met.

I'll bet that, like me, you can recognise the symptoms of low level OCD in what we do. It can sometimes be a joke that we use to explain our behaviours, our obsessions with doing the "right thing right".

In fact, the pandemic - especially lockdown - created a "groundhog day" effect for us all and I can remember well the day after day of routine as we were confined to quarters. In some respects, the routine became a comfort.

Not necessarily so if the sense of overwhelm builds to the level that you cannot cope.

Many of you will know the former Chief Executive of Practice Plan, Steve Turnock, who became NED until the business was sold to Wesleyan in 2013.

Less well known is the fact that Steve began to suffer from the effects of severe OCD in 2017, after a lifetime of such behaviour at low levels.

You can read Steve's story here -

After receiving successful treatment, Steve was grateful and inspired to become the founder of the charity Asto, dedicated to helping those suffering from OCD but perhaps unable to secure treatment due to their personal circumstances.

And they are now looking for people to help.

If you are aware of any individual who may be presenting or suffering from symptoms of severe OCD, Asto Clinics are there to help and can offer treatment free of charge for those who qualify.

Groups of 10 meet regularly via Zoom to work through a carefully designed and proven programme - details are here -

This may be an opportunity to provide help for someone that you know to take Steve's journey back to health and happiness.

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