This is Hoarding Awareness Week in Washington state.

Hoarding is an affliction that affects roughly 350,000 people in Washington. It s twice as prevalent as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and four times that of schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. It was only listed as an official clinical diagnosis this year.

Dr. Jennifer Sampson a family therapist with a doctorate in Family Social Science, remembers watching the television series Hoarders and wondering how she could help.

Sampson co-founded The Hoarding Project as a way to help people cope with family or friends who are hoarders. That project led to a new task force comprising mental health professionals, housing officials and representatives, law and code enforcement officers, emergency responders, professional organizers, attorneys and even cleaning and bio-hazard companies.

Sampson hopes they can work together to better diagnose and treat hoarders. On her website, the motto is simple: Stopping the Silence and Starting the Conversation.

They ll hold a series of events this week across Puget Sound to raise awareness of hoarding. They welcome anyone who wants to learn more about hoarding, especially hoarders looking for help or family and friends looking to help them.

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