We talk a lot about raising awareness on this blog. Awareness by those who are afflicted with a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB), and awareness from the medical profession and general public. So what's all the fuss about awareness anyway?
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Awareness is defined as:
knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.
The Trichotillomania Learning Centre has always been at the forefront of BFRB awareness and advocacy, and have made tremendous strides in achieving their goal. Altough they cater to a global audience, they are based in America so the fantastic work they do is not always as far reaching as they would like it to be. The work TLC has done has gone a long way in contributing to advances in research and hence informing more accessibile treatment in the US. But that is not enough, because we still have a sore shortage of qualified and experienced therapists both in the US and abroad. In this video, Angela Hartlin explains why this is a problem for those who suffer with this disorder on a daily basis.
One of the biggest challenges facing those with BFRBs is the lack of acknowledgement of the legitamacy of their struggle. As Angela explains, being told you will just have to live with it is just not good enough! Whether you pick your skin or not, you can recognize that this is not something one can be expected to just deal with on your own. The individual already feels enough shame and guilt to have to now also be subjected to shaming from health professionals who are meant to be trusted to know how to help you. We place health professionals on a pedastel of stature so when they do not acknowledge our health concerns we believe them. This is wrong! Every health professional should be aware that skin picking, hair pulling and other BFRBs are all recognized clinical conditions and should be treated as such. And every person with this disorder should have the access to one or other form of treatment to ease their suffering. And that is why awareness is so important.