Hearing voices is a common experience, yet it’s one that’s seldom talked about.
Although the latest stats have shown that up to 12% of young people hear things, see things or sense things that other people don’t, they tell us that the misinformation, fear and stigma surrounding these experiences makes it incredibly difficult for them to share what’s going on and to seek support if they’re struggling.
That’s where we aim to help.
About Voice Collective
We launched the Voice Collective service in 2009, with the aim of building capacity within existing programs to enhance their support for children and young people who hear voices, see visions or have other unusual sensory experiences, paranoia or unusual beliefs or multiplicity.
Although many children and young people who have these experiences aren’t distressed by them, others describe a combination of positive, negative and neutral experiences. Some young people can find their voices or visions overwhelming, confusing, frightening or upsetting, and some struggle with feelings of powerlessness, worthlessness or hopelessness. They may be self-harming, feeling suicidal or have attempted to end their lives.
We support children and young people in distress by normalising what they’re going through, reducing isolation and stigma and increasing coping skills, self-esteem and their capacity to live lives that they’ll love.
We do this, predominantly, through creating opportunities for the most vulnerable and at-risk to connect, share experiences and different ways of managing them, and receive peer support. We’ve seen significant improvements in young people who’ve accessed our service, and with funding from BBC Children in Need and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation we’re now able to expand our work across the UK.
Developing peer support services
We recruit staff and volunteers with personal experience of voices, visions and beliefs who provide support to children and young people by email, telephone and face-to-face. Our staff spread the important message that if you’re struggling with these experiences you’re not alone, and it’s possible to develop ways of managing, or living alongside them.
We’re always exploring new ways of reaching children and young people where they’re at, and have launched the world’s first online forum dedicated to supporting voice hearers under 25 and their families, funded by Hearing the Voice at Durham University.
Our forum is moderated 365 days per year by project staff and volunteers with personal experience of voices and visions, in order to keep it feeling safe for all members. There are separate areas for under 18s, 18-25s, siblings and friends, parents and carers, and professionals, as we’ve learnt that everyone within a young person’s family and network can benefit from receiving help and peer support.
Children, young people and families can chat about whatever’s important to them, share experiences and ways of coping with difficulties. Professional members can share learning and resources, and enhance their reflective practice.
Capacity building & training
Over the past 9 years we’ve trained more than 800 professionals, from the NHS’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Early Intervention in Psychosis services and youth organisations, supporting them to develop their skills and confidence to help children and young people distressed by their voices, visions or beliefs.
We deliver a programme of free trainings, and specialist workshops on subjects such as understanding and supporting young people who hear voices and self-harm, and supporting young offenders who hear voices or see visions. To find out more, visit us at VoiceCollective.co.uk.
Working with us
We’re reaching out to CAMHS and youth organisations across the UK to set up new peer support groups. To find out more about working with us, including our in-house training offer, ongoing mentoring and support to services, get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eve Mundy manages the Voice Collective service at Mind in Camden, where she sets up and facilitates peer support groups in partnership with community and inpatient CAMHS & EIP services, prisons, YOIs and Youth Offending Services. She is an international trainer and speaker on youth and forensic mental health, hearing voices, self-harm and suicide.