As a viewer, you may have tuned in and watched the show Deal or No Deal with host Howie Mandel, a television actor, host, and comedian originally born in Canada. What you might not know is that Mandel
rarely ever shakes hands with anyone, including contestants on his show because he has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and an irrational fear of germs. Mandel has also been known to douse himself in hand sanitizer before extending a hand to The Tonight Show host Jay Leno when appearing on the program recently as a guest.
According to an interview with CNN, Mandel’s OCD started when he was a child. Though, at the time, he didn’t understand what made him not want to touch his dirty shoe laces. The condition left him feeling isolated even though the National Institutes of Health stimates that OCD affects more than 2 million Americans.
The problem, says Mandel, is that our country still views mental disorders in a negative light and has disproportionate resources for coping with issues of mental health as opposed to other areas of wellness including medical and dental care. He advocates that mental health, particularly youth mental health, is
deserving of the same attention we give to other aspects of healthcare and that it’s unjust for people to feel shamed for seeking help with depression when they are encouraged to see a professional for say, a routine infection.
Mandel, who also lives with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, says that OCD is complicated. Sometimes he is more affected by it than other times. And while he knows that touching someone’s hand is physically not going to kill him, there have been times when he can’t keep his mind from racing when just such an encounter occurs.
As Mandel has proven, it is possible to live a successful life in the midst of mental illness. The first step is to talk to a mental health professional if you suspect something out of the ordinary. Family Guidance
Center has mental health professionals trained in helping both children and adults work through various issues
affecting mental health. To learn more, contact a team member at your local Family Guidance Center.