We use the term “hearing voices” as a convenience, but it encompasses a whole spectrum of hearing voices and noises, seeing and feeling things that other people cannot. In psychiatric terms these are called hallucinations. In our terms they are part of the (sometimes distressing) experience of being human.

Many people associate hearing voices with a diagnosis of schizophrenia; however, this is not necessarily the case. 1 in 10 people in the UK hear voices, yet only 1 in 100 receive a schizophrenia diagnosis. We facilitate groups for all people who experience hearing voices, with many different mental health diagnoses, or none.

In 2007, Sutton Mental Health Foundation in conjunction with local psychologists, and people who use our services, set up Sutton Hearing Voices Network. The Sutton network is affiliated to the national Hearing Voices Network (HVN) and our facilitators have been trained by the national HVN. Two of us have subsequently gone on to train with HVN so that we are able to provide training locally.

We currently facilitate a group for people who hear voices, within the ethos of HVN. All our group facilitators are fully trained and are staff or people who use services  who have experienced hearing voices.

The group we run is a safe place for people who hear voices to get together and share experiences and coping strategies. The members can give and receive encouragement, reassurance and support.

The meetings can help to reduce the feelings of isolation which often follows the voice hearing experience. They can provide a supportive, informal environment where people can share their fears and worries as well as ways of coping with the voices.

One of our group members said “within the group I found the acceptance and understanding that I have been looking for,” and another said, “It is so therapeutic to be with a group of people who hear voices and together we try to find our way through the labyrinth of voice hearing.”

Our group is held every Thursday from 3pm-4pm at Sutton College (SCOLA).

To find out more about our group, or training, please call Carol on: 020 8770 0172 or email admin@smhf.org.uk