Knowledge is Power: Helping people who hear voices to feel more empowered and overcome stigma

Free half-day training courses, Glasgow & London

Up to 1 in 10 people will hear voices at some point in their lives. It is an experience that can happen to people with a psychiatric diagnosis such as psychosis, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anorexia and depression, as well as people who do not have a mental health problem.

Internalised stigma and disempowerment are perhaps the biggest barriers to people feeling able to talk about distressing voice-hearing experiences and find ways of managing them. There is a wealth of information available in print and online, but sometimes it can be challenging to know what to use, how to use it and how to integrate it into a supportive relationship without overwhelming or further distancing people and their loved ones.

Brought to you by Hearing the Voice (Durham University) in collaboration with Rai Waddingham (voice-hearer, mental health trainer), this workshop will explore the way in which we can use information and resources to help people distressed by their voices feel more empowered and reduce internalised stigma. It will include an introduction to Understanding Voices, a new website for voice-hearers, their families and health professionals, and ways of using this in practice, as well as exploring strategies and techniques for talking about voice-hearing in a normalising way.

This course is suitable for:

Anyone with an interest in this topic, including voice-hearers, family members, carers, mental health professionals, volunteers, social care workers, peer supporters, group facilitators, GPs and more.

Details and how to register:

The same half-day training course is offered in both Glasgow and London, and will take place at the following venues and times:

Friday 28 February, 10am-1pm (with lunch from 1-2pm)

The Albany Learning and Conference Centre

Woodlands Suite

44 Ashley Street

Glasgow G3 6DS

Tuesday 3 March, 10am-1pm (with lunch from 1-1.45pm)

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Rooms 1 & 2

Society Building

8 All Saints Street

London N1 9RL

The training is free to attend and runs from 10am to 1pm, with lunch provided at 1pm. Certificates will be available at the end of the course. If you would like to attend, please register here.

Travel bursaries are available for voice-hearers and Hearing Voices Groups who wish to attend the course.

Places are limited for these events, so advance booking is essential.  If you have any queries, please contact Victoria Patton.

Call for Abstracts: ‘The Practical Handbook of Living with Distressing Voices’

We’ve been asked by Roz Austin and Mark Hopfenbeck to circulate the following call for abstracts:

The Practical Handbook for living with distressing voices is the third book in a series of ‘practical handbooks’ on different mental health issues, edited by Roz Austin and Mark Hopfenbeck. Current research suggests that as many as 500,000 persons in the UK experience distressing voices every year. The Living with distressing voices handbook will offer a unique range of perspectives on the interventions or activities that may help voice-hearers to cope better with their voices. The majority of its chapters will be co-written by a voice-hearer and a relative or mental health professional. This book will offer high quality, relevant chapters written by people who live with distressing voices, their relatives, and leading researchers, clinicians and therapists, and aims to improve understanding of practical ways of helping voice-hearers. The proposed publisher is PCCS Books.

The first book in this series of ‘practical handbooks’ is titled ‘The practical handbook of hearing voices’’ and will be published by PCCS Books in July 2020.

Themes for ‘The practical handbook of living with distressing voices’ include:

  • Lived experience of voice-hearers / relatives of voice-hearers
  • Working with voice-hearers who hear distressing voices (i.e. therapies, practical strategies)
  • Self-help approaches for voice-hearers who are distressed by their voices (i.e. arts, sport, hobbies)

If you’d like to contribute a chapter to The Practical Handbook for living with distressing voices, please email Roz a title and 200-word abstract by 31st January 2020.

Please note that this book is independent from Hearing the Voice. If you have any further queries, you should contact Roz.

Welcoming Becci Lee to Hearing the Voice

We’re pleased to introduce Becci Lee, who will be joining the team as a Research Assistant (Psychology Department). Becci writes:

Becci LeeI am delighted to be joining the Hearing the Voice project as a research assistant. I look forward to learning a lot and expanding my skill set throughout my time here. I have completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology, as well as a MA Research Methods in Developmental Psychology. During my dissertations, I studied the link between homelessness and mental health. Specifically, my master’s project focussed on how experiences of homelessness relate to voice-hearing. There is a major overlap between hallucinatory risk factors and homeless experiences, yet, there is little-to-no research on this topic. I intend to pursue a PhD and hope to continue exploring homelessness and voice-hearing.

In case you missed it! ‘Hearing Voices: What do we need to know?’

On 11 September 2019, over two hundred people attended our public symposium on ‘Hearing Voices: What do we need to know?’ at The Assembly Rooms in Newcastle upon Tyne. The event marked the launch of our new website, Understanding Voices, and brought voice-hearers and their allies together with academics, activists and clinicians in order to explore future directions in voice-hearing research, advocacy, policy and clinical practice.

If you couldn’t join us at the event, you can catch some of the talks and presentations below.

Welcome and introduction
Welcome‘ – Angela Woods (Co-director, Hearing the Voice)

Three digital stories
Am I dangerous?’ – Nikki Mattocks
My name is Stephen’ – Stephen Groves
Hearing voices isn’t all bad’ – Wenda Parsons

Launch of Understanding Voices
The Big Picture’ – Charles Fernyhough (PI, Hearing the Voice)
The Process’ – Victoria Patton (Hearing the Voice)
The Promise’ – Rai Waddingham (Chair, Hearing Voices Network England)

The Future of Hearing Voices
The more we look the less we see?’ – Akiko Hart (Mind in Camden)
Psychosis risk and the social environment’ – James Kirkbride (University College London)
Finding new ways to listen to and learn from young people’ – Sarah Parry (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Voices in clinical and non-clinical populations’ – Emmmanuelle Peters (King’s College London)
Context matters: service user leadership and perspectives within digital voice-hearing research’ – Stephanie Allan (University of Glasgow)
A world without voices’ – Elisabeth Svanholmer (Voice-hearer and mental health trainer)
Making space for madness’ – Jason Poole (University of East London)
Culture and hearing voices: What do we need to know?’ – Dawn Edge (University of Manchester)
Augmenting the technology of talking: the digital future of help for hearing voices’ – Neil Thomas (Swinburne University of Technology)
Hearing voices: what’s the tipping point?’ – Ben Alderson-Day (Durham University)
I think we got off on the wrong foot. Can we start over?’ – Rachel Waddingham (Voice-hearer, mental health trainer, researcher and Chair of the Hearing Voices Network England)

More information about the speakers and their affiliations can be found at in the event programme, which you can download here. Please feel free to share these resources on social media using the hashtag #UnderstandingVoices.

Faith and Mental Health: a Christian Response (18 October)

Image credit: The Church of England/Amadej Tauses

On 18 October 2019, the Archbishop of Canterbury hosted ‘Faith and Mental Health: a Christian Response’ at Lambeth Palace. Seeking to tackle stigma and develop support within faith communities, the conference featured workshops on topics such as mental-health concerns in BAME communities; LGBTQ+ people and mental health; sexual abuse, trauma, and mental health; offenders’ mental health; and poverty, social exclusion, and mental health.

Our very own Chris Cook delivered the keynote address, arguing that ‘Jesus would see mental health as a priority within his mission’. He also contributed to the supporting material on the Church of England’s website, conducting two video interviews with Christians that have suffered from mental health problems. You can watch these here.

The conference saw the launch of a ten-day series of reflections on faith and mental health, which can be used at any point throughout the year. These articles were written by Chris Cook and are accompanied by ‘have a go’ habits from Ruth Rice. Day four features reflections on hearing voices and can be read on the Church of England website.