An Australian university has created an online tool to help young people suffering with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

A new site called ‘OCD? Not Me!’ has been put together to help people aged 12 to 18 overcome the anxiety disorder.

The everyday trouble experienced by those suffering from OCD is hard to overestimate, with victims often becoming preoccupied with negative thoughts and behaviours that can take over their lives.

Dr Rebecca Anderson, from Curtin University’s School of Psychology and Speech Pathology says; “people with OCD may have rituals or strong compulsions to do certain things repeatedly, in order to banish the daunting thoughts.”

“This can include repeated hand washing, checking of doors, switches and appliances to having to complete mental check-lists or keep objects in straight lines... when OCD is severe, the obsessions can be extremely distressing for a young person and impacts their academic, social and family life,” Dr Anderson said.

Figures say OCD is thought to affect 0.5 to 2 per cent of children, with the World Health Organization ranking it as the tenth highest cause of disability in the world. More than 450,000 Australians will develop OCD at some point in their lives, showing the importance of developing effective ways to treat it.

The program was developed by Curtin University researchers from a funding award of exactly $464,476.

Associate Professor Clare Rees says online treatments are “a cost-effective, flexible, accessible way for clients to access treatment, especially for people who are reluctant to undertake face-face therapy or who lack access to services.”

“It will also include a national referral network so that individuals needing additional help will be linked to useful services in their area.”

The ‘OCD? Not Me!’ program has been funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing (Mental Health Promotion Section) and will continue for several years. More information is available here.