UH Moment: "OCD Challenge"

Elizabeth Macingvale, Ph.D student at the UH Graduate School of Social Work
One UH student channels her health challenge into research to help others. Listen to this week's UH Moment.

"Welcome to the OCD Challenge. You've taken the first and most important step in challenging your OCD. This program will help you take back your life"

The online video features UH Graduate College of Social Work student Elizabeth McIngvale who was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at the age of 12.  Her rituals related to anxieties about germs and contamination were crippling to her and to her family before she received proper treatment.  It was a long and challenging climb up the mountain.

OCD Challenge Logo"It feels like a living nightmare," she said. "The hard part with OCD is you rationally are able to say I know this is illogical and doesn't make sense, but I feel I have to do it."

Now a PhD student, McIngvale has devoted her research to helping others understand OCD and to working on online strategies to reduce symptoms.  Together with her research team she created OCDChallenge.com.

"This is a self-help website, so it can be a bridge to treatment. It can be a bridge after treatment to encourage and prevent relapse. Most importantly it's for all those who can't afford treatment or can't see someone or are in an area where they don’t have that option," she said.

Handwashing, one of the common manifestations of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Launched in July of 2011, hundreds have registered to access the interactive site—patients and therapists—for definitions, strategies, informative videos and other resources. It soon will be translated into nine languages. Many from as far away as Australia, India and the former Soviet republic of Georgia have emailed to say how much the site has helped them.  McIngvale and her research team will use the data to determine if online strategies reduce OCD symptoms.  

"You know, this is what I'm meant to do. I can only hope that I can have the same influence on other people that my therapists have had on me," she said.  

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