Film and panel to discuss hoarding

ANN ARBOR, Mich.- Stacks of newspapers, piles of waste, weathered clothing and toys: this is the backdrop of the first scene in "My Mother's Garden"- an award-winning film that documents a 61-year-old woman's daily life as a hoarder. The documentary is filmed through the perspective of the woman's daughter (director Cynthia Lester), who is trying to save her mother from eviction and repair the family havoc created by her mother's condition.

"My Mother's Garden" will be presented on Tuesday, Sept. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Michigan Theatre, located at 603 E. Liberty Street in Ann Arbor. The University of Michigan Depression Center will present the film in collaboration with the Washtenaw County Hoarding Task Force and the Children of Hoarders organization.

A discussion panel scheduled to immediately follow the film will include: Cynthia Lester, the film's director, Jim Abelson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the U-M Anxiety Disorders Clinic  and professor of psychiatry at the U-M Medical School; Harriet Bakalar, MSW, the Elderly Eviction Prevention Coordinator at the U-M Health System's Housing Bureau for Seniors; Joe Himle, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and at the U-M School of Social Work; Stephanie Preston, Ph.D., a behavioral neuroscientist at U-M's Department of Psychology; and Elizabeth Nelson, a representative from the Children of Hoarders organization.  

The event is free and open to the public. Continuing education credits will be available for social workers and psychologists.
The intent of the screening is to raise public awareness about the issue of hoarding, while also providing people who are affected by hoarding a forum to learn more about this neglected condition that can devastate the lives of sufferers and their families.
"Hoarding is a very serious issue that is often kept hidden," explains Abelson. "We hope that this event will encourage people who are affected by hoarding to begin a dialogue about what they face on a daily basis. This is also an opportunity for the public to be educated about an issue that rarely receives clinical attention."
Created over 30 years ago, U-M's Anxiety Disorders Treatment Clinic is one of the oldest clinics of its kind in the country. It is a regional referral center for evaluating and treating anxiety disorders, providing both psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic services.
Written by Laura Drouillard

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