We've seen an increasing number of hoarding cases around the Mahoning Valley, cases that are so bad the home is deemed unsafe and unlivable.

Some may not realize hoarding is a mental health issue. A lot of times it stems from past traumas.

As we continue our mental health coverage this month, Reporter Sydney Canty sat down with several experts who say taking the moment to help out, reassess and breathe could make all the difference.

"We have to deal with the individual's mental health issues or the problem will just continue," said Duane Piccirilli of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.

Like trying to fill a void, hoarding takes on different forms. It could look like a collection of animals, material things or both and it's a mental health issue that's more prevalent than you might think.

"I think most neighborhoods have a home that they think may be falling in disrepair," said Piccirilli. "But I bet you most people can think of some property in their area that might be accumulating a lot of things on their porch in their garage and in their house," he said.

The International OCD Foundation reports that around two to six percent of our nation's population suffers from hoarding disorder.

"Because it's such an under reported and under represented group, that the two to six percent that we know about, the actual number may be as high as 15 percent," said Doug Doyle of Direction Home of Eastern Ohio. "They're just sort of living and suffering in silence," he said.

Hoarding is an issue that can affect anyone, but is seen more in one certain age group.

"People then who are elderly and are facing dementia, alzheimer's, they become recluse from other family or they don't have family, those are things that will exacerbate the problem of hoarding," said Jane MacMurchy, executive director at Animal Charity of Ohio. "A lot of times they're so unsafe, those homes need to be condemned," she said.

MacMurchy, Doyle and Piccirilli are apart of a group called the Hoarding Coalition, that partners with several others to get to the root of the issue.

"It's just not as simple as cleaning the house up, because many times these people may have obsessive compulsive behavior and they think everything in the house is very valuable," Piccirilli said.

"We're not just showing up like it is on TV, emptying a house," said Doyle. "That can actually be very traumatic for someone who's in a hoarding situation," he said.

Some hoarding situations are so severe, a person could die from a fall or due to fire hazards.

"There was a case a few years ago that a woman was actually living in her car and when we sent someone out there, her house was so full of magazines and newspapers and boxes and animals that she couldn't live in her house," said Piccirilli. "The person had to go to the hospital because there was some malnutrition and some other health issues," he said.

What if you start to notice a family member or loved one beginning to accumulate a lot of different things, can it be stopped in its tracks? Doyle says, absolutely.

"Reach out to mental health providers for some guidance. The Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board is an excellent beginning source for something like that," said Doyle. He continues that "taking the moment," can make all the difference. "Stepping back, taking a breath and looking at their living situation may be very helpful," he said.

Experts also encourage doing wellness checks every now and then

"Don't be afraid to ask for a welfare check on your neighbors, your relatives and your friends," said MacMurchy. "It's never going to hurt to just go and make a check to see if they're OK," she said.

If you or someone you know needs information about mental health support, call 211. If you or someone you know may be suicidal or in a crisis, call or text 988.