Hollyoaks confirms it is tackling OCD with the character of Diane Hutchinson (Alex Fletcher).
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that typically manifests as distressing thoughts, images or feelings, which recur, and which the sufferer thinks can be alleviated via repetitive actions/behaviour or ‘rituals’.
Speaking about the storyline, Alex Fletcher said: “It’s always an honour to get an issue storyline that I hope I can do justice to and I’m intrigued to learn more about the disorder. Like many people, I’ve heard of OCD but was shocked to hear how much it can inhibit people’s lives. It’s so important to get the facts out there, especially during the pandemic when it’s affecting even more people.
“Diane loves Tony and her children more than anything and I think she’s felt partly responsible for letting Edward into their lives and putting them all in harms way. She now feels an overwhelming need to protect them all and this comes out as obsessive behaviour, which is so consuming for Diane.”
Diane’s OCD was first hinted at on screen earlier this year after she discovered that she was pregnant to Tony’s (Nick Pickard) controlling father, Edward Hutchinson (Joe McGann).
Edward manipulated, gaslit and groomed Diane into having a relationship with him, and over the coming weeks, viewers will see how the lasting impact of his control is affecting Diane’s mental health.
Hollyoaks is working with charity organisation, OCD-UK, which measured a 40% rise in service stats from people contacting the charity for support in the early days of the pandemic.
Ashley Fulwood, CEO of OCD-UK, explained: “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder goes far beyond the cleaning rituals that most people perceive when they think of OCD. Those rituals can be driven by a deluge of unwanted, graphic, intrusive thoughts and worries about harm coming to a loved one.
“The World Health Organisation once ranked OCD tenth in the leading causes of disability and, in the case of women aged 15–44 years, the fifth leading cause of disability. If left untreated it can have devastating consequences.
“For some women, pregnancy and the associated worries and concerns can exacerbate OCD to the point of crisis, to the point of despair, to the point of desperation.”
Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4 with first-look screenings at 7pm on E4.