A mental health trust is making use of Twitter to help the tens of thousands of people believed to suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder in Sussex.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is running the one-hour tweet chat tomorrow as part of National Mental Health Awareness Week.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that affects up to one million people in the UK and sufferers experience unwanted, intrusive and unpleasant thoughts and behaviour.

The symptoms can range from mild to severe and although OCD affects individuals differently, most people with the condition fall into a set pattern of thoughts and behaviour.

Trust clinical psychologist Clara Strauss said: “It is important that people who think they have OCD seek help because it may not get better on its own.

“On average people wait for ten years before they seek help and often do not share their difficulties with friends and family members.”

The trust opened a specialist OCT clinic in Hellingly last November and has already helped more than 100 people with treatments based on cognitive behaviour therapy.

Theresa Harvie, 42, from Newhaven, has recently finished a 12-week programme at the clinic. She said: “When somebody first suggested the course I thought there is no way I am going into a room with people I don’t know to discuss my OCD, but deep down I knew I had to.

“I first realised I had OCD at the age of 17 after I gave birth to my first daughter. I had intrusive thoughts initially and kept thinking that something terrible was going to happen to someone in my family.

“Then I started to perform rituals every 15 to 20 minutes like washing things over and over again, touching things and going in and out of rooms. It was taking up my whole day and took over my life. “OCD can be an embarrassing subject to talk about because it can be quite extreme and you spend most of your time trying to hide it.

“But for anyone afraid of seeking help I would say you should see your GP.”

The chat runs from noon to 1pm. Those interested in taking part can get involved by using any one of the following hashtags #withoutstigma #OCDtweet.