Mental Illness: OCD

This could be a Retail Reminder, or it could apply to everyday life. But I feel that I have to write this in light of a recent occurrence at Tim Hortons involving prejudice and hostility toward a person living with OCD and the fact that it is currently International OCD Awareness Week (Oct. 14-20).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety (obsessions), repetitive behaviors that are engaged in to reduce anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of both. While many are concerned about germs or leaving their stove on, people with OCD are unable to control their anxiety-producing thoughts and their need to engage in ritualized behaviors. As a result, OCD can have a tremendous negative impact on people’s day-to-day functioning.”

The situation:

A family friend has been banned from a Tim Hortons due to an employee complaining about “abusive behaviour.”

To refute this claim:

Firstly, this friend has always been accompanied by another person (witness) who has never heard a verbally abusive thing leave this person’s lips. Characteristically he or she is playful, outgoing person who loves to chat and never has a temper.

Secondly, the complaint is a fabrication, because the employee in question (Judy) is angry that this customer repeatedly returns the coffee because of curdled cream particles floating in it, because an employee has touched the lid in an unhygienic manner, or because of other OCD-related problems.

(not to mention some of Tim Hortons practices are too unsanitary for the average person anyway)

The reality:

Without returning the product for a new one, anxiety attacks or worse may occur within the person who has OCD.

This person is often apologetic, or even embarrassed because they have little to no control over these behaviours and actions.

Tim Hortons:

How horrible that Tim Hortons decided to respond to this by banning him or her from its store.  How horrible that it is only one employee who has “documented” (i.e. fabricated) abusive comments. How horrible is it that the stigma around OCD and mental health is not only not shattered, but now worsened.

What an opportunity for Tim Hortons to be part of the solution to the stigma around mental health rather than the problem.

The Twist:

The employee accusing the person with OCD already has had official complaints against her for her bad customer service as well as abuse of this OCD client already – but it is not she that will suffer. She does not have to openly wear the burden of mental illness every day, nor could she possibly understand how hard it is to live with OCD.

My Question:

Is Tim Hortons following the Ontario Accessibility Standard for Customer Service? Have the employees at this location been provided with training around both visible and invisible accessibility issues? Is the employer taking advantage of the tools offered by the government of Ontario that teach employees about these issues.

A Selection from the Employer Handbook for training your staff on the Ontario Accessibility Standard for Customer Service

A Selection from the Employer Handbook for training your staff on the Ontario Accessibility Standard for Customer Service

For organizations that persist in not meeting their obligations, the government has the power to conduct inspections, assign monetary penalties and prosecute through the courts.


Everyone deserves to be treated with respect: employees, customers, everyone. This involves treating people like human beings, giving someone the benefit of the doubt, not spreading rumours about them, not lying.

Honestly, this situation just makes me sad. Is this the direction we are headed when a major chain decides to stand against someone with a mental illness? Or will we choose to move forward where people with mental illness are the same as everyone else.

Treat everyone with respect; treat them how you would like to be treated, and don’t contribute to the negative stigma surrounding mental illness.

Discrimination due to Mental Illness is NEVER okay.

(I’m talking to you, Tim Hortons)


6 thoughts on “Mental Illness: OCD

  1. Its really sad how a business like tim hortons often forgets its founding principals of customer service, now only relies on profit,

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