News

INTERVOICE

We are a member of  INTERVOICE, (more information here) the international organisation representing networks in 35 countries across the world.

Compassionate Mental Health Conference “Inspiring and Informative”: Report on the two day event

 

 

 

 

 

The latest Compassionate Mental Health Conference held in October 2017 at fforest, Cardigan was an inspiring and wholly informative two day event. This initiative was founded by Brigid Bowen whose own personal journey of psychosis and recovery had led to her interest in recovery-focussed approaches to mental health. Hearing Voices Network Wales helped to fund bursary places at the conference and emailed us the details of the conference.

The initial introductions were facilitated by Malcolm Stern, the co-founder of Alternatives. We then separated into smaller break out groups to share why we were there. A complement of professionals, funders and experiencers of mental health challenges could be found in most groups. The common ground we found between us is that as individuals we all experience trauma and challenges with our mental health at some time in our lives.

Over the two days we learned about eCPR with Dr Daniel Fisher, a psychiatrist from the US. eCPR is a process of helping individuals through emotional crisis and through to releasing trauma. It’s a simple and human process of genuine connection from one individual to another.

Beatrice Birch facilitated a healing session where we created the perfect sphere from clay. She talked about Inner Fire, a year-long residential programme that she founded in Vermont, US. Inner Fire helps individuals to recover from mental distress, addictions and to come off medication. There was a tangible joining of energies within our group and the feeling of healing energy being present.

Rufus May and Elisabeth Svanholmer presented their compassionate and non-judgemental approach to voice hearing as well as towards those experiencing a state of psychosis.

Andy Bradley gave us the experience of our feelings being expressed and heard in a group setting. Each of us had equal time to express our feelings and he managed the time frame for us. I felt this had real meaning for those of us who had experienced problems with not being allowed to express feelings as well as not getting needs met in our lives.

Elinor Kapp, a retired child psychiatrist, told her stories to a large group of enraptured listeners in the evening by firelight. Elinor uses story as an agent of healing and recently published a book of her stories.

Last but not least there was the wonderful setting of the conference at fforest. The latter teaches simple, healthy and sustainable living – they sustained us with tasty and healthy food much of it grown on site.
There was even a retired consultant psychiatrist preparing the drinks for breaks and all in all this community of equals without hierarchy was a refreshing change. It seemed the experts were actually those who lived with mental health challenges and had experienced crisis. We found participants from every walk of life at the conference. We informally networked with people interested in creating safe spaces for healing and withdrawing from medication. Many made connections and partnerships for future projects.

Compassionate Mental Health aimed to inform, inspire and empower people living and working with mental health distress and we feel these aims were met. It also brought people together of a common mind to improve the attitudes, beliefs and treatment of mental health towards a more compassionate and recovery based approach. http://compassionatementalhealth.co.uk/about Watch this space! The next conference will be in March / April 2018 – we hope to see you there.

Helena and Chris Parker – Hearing Voices Peer Support Group at Mid Powys Mind at Llandrindod Wells.

Hearing Voices Network Brazil formally established


The First Brazilian National Hearing Voices Congress in Rio in October 2017 is ends with the launch of the Hearing Voices Network Brazil and the adoption of their manifesto as follows:

“We are voice hearers, relatives and mental health professionals, and other participants of the First National Congress of Voices Speakers of Brazil that met on October 20th and 21st, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro.

INTERVOICE is a an international network for people who hear voices , a network for exchanging of information and experiences. INTERVOICE is against the against the pathologisation of the experience of hearing voices and fights for for the rights of people who hear voices.

Considering that our society still sees voice hearers as psychiatric patients, often regards people who hear voices as incapable and excludes and discriminates against them for not meeting the standards of normality imposed by society.

Considering the importance of the protagonism and the autonomy of voice hearers we launch here this manifesto for the foundation of the Brazilian Association of People Who Hear Voices with the following aims:

▪ to become part of INTERVOICE, the worldwide network for people who hear voices;
▪ to affirm that listening to voices is a human experience, an individual and private experience
▪ to support people who experience difficulties and suffering in relation to their voice experience”

BBC Documentary about people who Voices – can you help?

 

 

Blakeway North, an independent production company have been commissioned by U.K. broadcaster BBC to make a film about people who hear voices. The film is being made for BBC3 an online channel aimed at young people. At this stage they are researching people’s experiences to help them shape the film. This is your chance to have your say.

Matt Ball – Australian Mental Health Nurse of the Year

Matt Ball of South Australia has received the prestigious award of Mental Health Nurse of the year 2017 by the Australia College of Mental Health Nurses for his outstanding contribution to mental health, in particular for his great work with voice hearers in Australia.

Our congratulations to Matt Ball on receiving this prestigious award for his great contribution to the development of the hearing voices movement in Australia.

See the presenting of this award and Matt’s acceptance speech below:

 

Children and Young People Hearing Voices, Tuesday 16 January 2018, Birmingham

Hearing Voices, Tuesday 16 January 2018

De Vere Colmore Gate, 5th & 7th Floor Colmore Gate, Bull Street Entrance, Birmingham, B3 2QD

This conference, staged by The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, brings together experts from the fields of early intervention, support services, and research, to give delegates the opportunity to come together to discuss recent research and practical take-aways.

In particular, this form of auditory hallucination is often linked to those who have a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, however, a significant number of otherwise healthy people have detailed their experience of Hearing Voices; indeed, experiencing auditory hallucinations is in no way a direct indication of a mental health disorder.

We are honoured to have the following speakers at this event: Eve Mundy of Voice Collective, Paul Patterson of Forward Thinking Birmingham, Professor Lisa Bortolotti of University of Birmingham.

For more information visit http://bit.ly/2fCQjWk

Email [email protected] or call 020 7403 7458

Reverend Dr Giles Fraser 09/10/2017 Thought for the Day BBC Radio 4

Reverend Dr. Giles Fraser reflects on what it means to be human and our capacity to experience wonder. Taking as his starting point the film “Blade Runner” based on the short story by voice hearer and science fiction writer, Phlip K Dick, he refers to the following quote:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die

Reverend Dr. Giles Fraser concludes his talk by enthusiastically speaking of the link between science and religion.

Rethinking the validity of Schizophrenia on World Mental Health Day An Open Letter to Rethink, the English Mental Health Charity

This an Open Letter written to Rethink, the English Mental Health Charity.

It was sent to Rethink on World Mental Health Day.

If you would like to add your name in support of this letter please contact Paul Baker at [email protected]

You can also add your name by writing in the comments section below.


To: Mark Winstanley, CEO, Rethink Mental Illness

10th October 2017

Dear Mark

Rethinking the validity of Schizophrenia on World Mental Health Day
An Open Letter to Rethink, the English Mental Health Charity

We are are a group of concerned citizens. Our backgrounds are diverse. We are people who hear voices, people living with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, family members and friends, experts by experience, experts by profession and researchers from the UK and beyond.

We are writing to you because Rethink has an important and respected voice in the world of mental health.

What you say as an organisation is significant. The work and findings of the Schizophrenia Commission in 2012 (1) and your part in the Time To Change Campaign (2) in England being recent examples of this.

In honour of World Mental Health Day 2017 we want to ask you to join us in a creating a new conversation around the term “schizophrenia” and the way in which we talk about this with the general public and within mental health services.

Specifically, we want to discuss your recent press release “New survey shows schizophrenia remains widely misunderstood” published on the 18th September 2017 (3) based on the findings of a survey carried out on your behalf by YouGov of 1500 people. The survey revealed that the “condition” is widely misunderstood. You warned that myths about “schizophrenia” are dangerous.

We agree that there are a lot of misconceptions about the diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, we are concerned that by challenging public myths about schizophrenia you are reinforcing one of the biggest myths – that schizophrenia is a valid diagnosis – and that the experiences of people diagnosed with schizophrenia are best understood as symptoms of an underlying mental illness.

We appreciate that in public awareness campaigns it can be felt that it is necessary to present a simple picture of mental health problems in order to gain public empathy. Yet, with this comes a problem. It is misleading.

The description of schizophrenia as a disease process, as acknowledged on your own website is not founded on any physical evidence. As you say “There are no blood tests or scans that can prove if you have schizophrenia. Only a psychiatrist can diagnose you after a full psychiatric assessment. Psychiatrists use manuals to diagnose mental illnesses.” (Rethink) (4). This is after more than 100 years since it was first used as a descriptive term.

The idea that schizophrenia is an actual illness entity or disease, rather than a way of categorising certain experiences gives the unfortunate impression that experiences such as hearing voices are synonymous with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, research tells us that hearing voices, seeing visions and having unusual thoughts exist on a continuum in the general population (5) and can also be associated with a wide range of mental health diagnoses. Furthermore, it gives the impression that voice-hearing is solely a symptom of a mental illness when the majority of voice hearers in the general population have never needed mental health care (6).

As you will be aware schizophrenia is very much a contested diagnosis and it is receiving increasing criticism from multiple fronts, including from professionals, survivors and researchers. The chair of the Schizophrenia Commission (commissioned by Rethink), Professor Sir Robin Murray wrote in the Schizophrenia Bulletin in 2017 that the schizophrenia construct:

“is already beginning to break down … presumably this process will accelerate, and the term schizophrenia will be confined to history, like ‘dropsy’ … Amazingly, such is the power of the Kraepelinian model that some psychiatrists still refuse to accept the evidence, and cling to the nihilistic view that there exists an intrinsically progressive schizophrenic process, a view greatly to the detriment of their patients.” (7)

Murray is not alone. The distinguished Dutch psychiatrist Jim Van Os has also called for the abandonment of “schizophrenia” as a useful description and concept. In an article in the British Medical Journal (2016) he argued that because it is often understood as a hopeless chronic brain disease, it should be dropped and replaced with something like “psychosis spectrum syndrome.” (8)

The Dutch psychiatrist, Professor Dr. Marius Romme, the co founder and former President of INTERVOICE goes further:

“The schizophrenia problem is the lack of scientific validity of the illness concept and the denial of the meaningfulness of the separate symptoms. These go together and make it impossible to solve the problems of the person… What we have to acknowledge is that psychiatrists don’t know what to else to do, apart from giving the diagnosis, so we can be angry with them, but that’s all they know. So when they see a person hearing voices, they easily identify that experience with schizophrenia, and the same if they see someone with delusions, etcetera… In normal health care, you have a complaint, then the doctor looks for the cause of that complaint, then puts complaint and cause together and makes a diagnosis. Psychiatrists do something different, they construct an illness from separate symptoms. They don’t look for the cause. Schizophrenia as an illness entity means that the symptoms are the consequence of the illness. There is no cause for the illness; the illness is the cause. This has no empirical basis and prevents a solution, because you don’t analyse the background of the symptoms. The experiences defined as the symptoms of schizophrenia are independent of the diagnosis. These experiences are meaningful in themselves, mostly related to emotional problems.” (9)

In contrast, in the BBC article “Have you got the wrong impression about schizophrenia” based on the press release, Brian Dow, director of external affairs at Rethink Mental Illness is quoted as saying; It’s about time we all got to grips with what schizophrenia is and what it isn’t. “Schizophrenia can be treated and managed, just like many other illnesses. It’s not a dirty word or, worse, a term of abuse.” (10)

Schizophrenia is not an illness that causes symptoms, it is a term used to categorise people’s experiences. However, the impression may be given that schizophrenia is an illness that affects the way we think and causes an array of symptoms including hearing voices, difficulties concentrating and having unusual beliefs. The position is based on the ‘mental illness is an illness like any other’ metaphor. It is well-intended in attempting to bestow dignity to the sickness role and to remove blame and by educating the public that “these people” are not responsible for their actions.

Unfortunately, we believe it has the opposite effect as it reinforces the belief that “schizophrenia” is “a debilitating disease” caused predominantly by a biochemical imbalance of the brain. In this way diagnostic labelling increases belief in bio-genetic causes, and also increases the sense of perceived dangerousness, unpredictability, lack of responsibility for own actions and lack of ‘humanity’ of people with the diagnosis. It also leads to the perception that the problem is more severe, that people are more dependent and the condition is bereft of hope of recovery. Furthermore as your survey revealed it increases fear, rejection and a desire for distance from people with the diagnosis.

It appears that bio-genetic causal beliefs, and diagnostic labelling, are making attitudes worse. The more that ordinary people think of the condition as a brain disease, and the less they recognise it to be a reaction to unfortunate circumstances, the more they shun people with the diagnosis. A biological approach makes it all too easy to believe that human beings fall into two subspecies: the mentally well and the mentally ill. When we label people as vulnerable, deficient or problematic what we do is define them out of the community and redefine them as clients of a service system, no longer as friend and neighbour. When we do that we take some of the soul of the person.

However, in twenty one countries including England, when asked, the public believe mental health problems, including psychosis, are caused primarily by adverse life events (11). Unfortunately, for every psychiatrist who agrees with the public there are 115 who think ‘schizophrenia’ is caused primarily by biological factors (12).

This gives us a sense of the agendas that need to be addressed.

In our opinion the diagnosis reduces complex challenges of living to an underlying disorder with symptoms. However these ‘symptoms’ may not be ‘just symptoms’. They may be profound, authentic feelings, emotions and moods which are an integral part of a person’s relationships with other people. Their struggle with actualising their authentic life. To dismiss these profound, authentic feelings as ‘just symptoms’ is to dehumanise and desensitise the person. This not only effects the individual with the diagnosis but all those around them and the community as a whole.

We agree with Brian Dow, your director of external affairs, who said in the BBC article:

“The symptoms of schizophrenia don’t fit neatly into a box, everyone will experience it differently. However, we can all play a role in rethinking schizophrenia, and helping to change attitudes, by learning to separate the myths from the facts.”

We would go further. We think that a new way forward needs to be forged. We need to acknowledge that symptoms associated with with diagnosis with schizophrenia can be understood as meaningful experiences in the context of someone’s life. Meaningful experiences that need to be explored.

We need to be asking the question: “What happened?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?”. For instance, we need to be investigating adverse childhood events and psycho-social approaches in relation to episodes of “psychosis” as currently understood. (13)

The are good grounds for taking this position. Increasingly, research is telling us that many people who go on to hear distressing experiences, experience episodes of psychosis or have diagnosis of schizophrenia have been through a number of adverse life events and trauma. This can include childhood sexual abuse, racism, bullying, neglect and other forms of victimisation, poverty, isolation and loss. (14)

For many, the voices can be understood in response to these difficult events, with the themes and identity of the voices being related in direct and metaphorical ways to the situations they have faced or the emotions they have been left with.

It is also important to remember that voice hearing is a diverse experience, with many possible causes and interpretations. Some people for example, hear voices that are an important and meaningful part of their daily life, an asset rather than a cause of difficulty.

Framing schizophrenia as an ‘illness like any other’ can increase stigma, not reduce it. Therefore we maintain that ”schizophrenia” as a construct is not useful or helpful for many people who receive the diagnosis and for society as a whole. Portraying mental ill health as a brain disease can only increase stigma. It diverts our attention away from other ways in which we can help people. It stops us from building a healthier world and encourages in people with the diagnosis, alienation, pessimism and a deep despair.

We applaud your mission of challenging misleading stereotypes about the diagnosis of schizophrenia. We want to stand alongside you in this. However, we firmly believe that if we are to really change the public narrative around schizophrenia we need to take a different approach.

Professor Sir Robin Murray’s views about the future demise of “schizophrenia” points to the need for proactive action. Our common task is to work together and create a culture where people who hear voices, see visions, experience altered and extreme states are supported in ways that are creative and hopeful.

This is why we want to engage with you to discuss the validity of the term “schizophrenia” in terms of the following issues:

  • We need to be honest: Presenting schizophrenia as an uncontested illness is misleading and could worsen stigma. Instead, we need to be honest with the general public about the debates and uncertainty surrounding the term.
  • Focus on making connections between people: The use of diagnoses and illness language separate us (the well) from them (the ill). However, when we talk about the struggles labelled as psychosis in a human way, describing the context and sense within the experiences, we can build bridges between people. We need to empathise with people’s stories, and not their diagnoses.
  • Increase awareness of the meaning that can be found within experiences like voices rather than presenting them as mere symptoms of an illness. Demonstrate that this meaning can be explored, asking “what’s happened to you – not what’s wrong with you”.
  • Emphasise the importance of different adverse life experiences that have been linked to many people’s experiences of psychosis and diagnoses of schizophrenia. This includes the importance of social determinants such as oppression, poverty and individual experiences of adversity and trauma.

We would welcome your leadership and partnership in making this happen, as you did bravely with the Schizophrenia Commission in 2012.

We hope you will agree to meet to discuss these issues, or engage in a written dialogue with us so together we can identify constructive and creative ways to move forward.

We look forward to your reply.

Your sincerely

Supported by 74 people

Eduarda Abilio, Survivor, Portugal
Tazma Ahmed-Datta, Portland, Oregon, USA
Valentina Alexa, Psychologist, Romania
Alan Baker, Three Treasures School of Taijiquan, Oxfordshire, England, UK
Paul Baker, INTERVOICE Social Media Coordinator, England, UK
Ivan Barry, Recovery Activist, Berlin, Germany
Philip Benjamin, Psychiatric Nurse, INTERVOICE Board, UK and Australia
Julie Bevan, England, UK
Kenneth Blatt, M.D., Psychiatrist, West Hartford, CT, USA
Brigid Bowen, Director, Compassionate Mental Health, Wales, UK

Alison Branitsky, voice hearer, Hearing Voices Network, USA
Berta Britz, voice hearer, Montgomery Hearing Voices Group, USA
Christine Brown, RMN, Hearing Voices Network, Scotland, UK
Peter Bullimore, England, UK
Bernie Bush, Australia
Roberta Casadio, psychologist and discovery partner, Italy
Oryx Cohen, Hearing Voices Network, USA
Ron Coleman, Scotland, UK
David Cooper Claire, survivor of schizophrenia diagnosis, Texas, USA
Dirk Corstens, psychiatrist, vice chair, INTERVOICE, Netherlands

Hywel Davies, Chair of Hearing Voices Network Cymru and voice hearer, Wales, UK
Margreet de Pater, ISPS Executive Committee, Netherlands
Michelle Dalton, artist, voice hearer, Cork, Ireland
Leonardo Duart Bastos, psychologist, Coordenador/ Fundador Grupo de Ouvidores de Campinas, Brazil
Stacey Duffy, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist working with people experiencing voices, California, USA
Carol Dugdale, Hearing Voices Group Facilitator, Manchester, England, UK
Jørn Eriksen, Psychiatric nurse, Denmark
Sandra Escher, PhD, INTERVOICE, Netherlands
Trevor Eyles, Psychiatric Nurse, Psychotherapeutic Educator, Denmark
Roberta Feltham, parent, Bournemouth, England, UK

Gina Firman Nikkel, President/CEO, Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, USA
Daniel Fischer, MD, PhD, survivor of schizophrenia label, USA
Geir Margido Fredriksen, Psychiatric Nurse, Molde, Norway
Linda Garland, England, UK
Lia Govers, person healed from ‘schizophrenia’ through psychodynamic, psychotherapy, Turin, Italy
Marty Hadge, HVN National Trainer, Voice hearer, Massachusetts, USA
Will Hall, MA, Dipl.PW, PhD candidate, Maastricht University
Paul Hammersley, psychologist, England, UK
Judit Harangozó MD psychiatrist, Community Centre of Semmelweis Univ. – Awakenins Foundation, Budapest, Hungary
Akiko Hart, Hearing Voices Project Manager, Mind in Camden, England, UK

Rebecca Hatton, PsyD, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Yasmin Ishaq, England, UK
Kevin Healey, Recovery Network: Toronto, Canada
Cory Isham, trauma survivor, psychologist & social worker, NW England
Itay Kander, Social Worker, Israel
Jen Kilyon, Trustee of Soteria Network and ISPSUK
Martijn Kole, (ex) user of Mental Health Services, peer leader and founder Enik Recovery college, Netherlands
Rita Long, People With People, Stockport, England, UK
Noreen Marie McLaughlin, voice hearer, Co Donegal, Ireland
Kieran McGuire, Australia

Joanne Newman, Lived Experienced Educator, ECU, Busselton Hearing Voices Network, Australia
Mad in America Foundation, USA
Michael O’Loughlin, Adelphi Unversity, New York, USA
Louisa Putman, Director at Arco Iris Institute, Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT), Arco Iris Institute, New Mexico, USA
Greg Ralls, professional engineer, voice hearer, Perth, Western Australia
Mary Ranke, Family member, Australia
Bodil Roved, psychiatrist, board member in Danish Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Denmark
Professor Marius Romme, psychiatrist, co-founder INTERVOICE, Netherlands
Olga Runciman, psychiatric nurse, psychologist & voice hearer, Danish Hearing Voices Network, Denmark
Barbara Schaefer, Beacon Social Care, Nottingham, England, UK

Joachim Schnackenberg PhD, Experienced Focussed Counselling Institute, Germany
Dorothy Scotten Ph.D., LICSW, Walden University, Minneapolis, USA
Ann-Louise S. Silver, M.D. Columbia, MD, USA
Dr. Helen Spandler, Reader in Mental Health, University of Central Lancashire, Editor: Asylum, the magazine for Democratic Psychiatry, England, UK
Olatunde Spence, art therapist and parent, Manchester, England, UK
Penny Stafford, Edinburgh, Scotland
Radoslwa Stupak ,MA, PhD candidate in psychology, Jagiellonian University, Poland
Alison Summers, Psychiatrist and psychotherapist, ISPS, UK
Satyin Taylor (personal capacity) Lived Experience; Care Coordinator/Chaplain; Trustee, National Spirituality and Mental Health Forum; Spitiual Crisis Network London Group, London, England, UK
Ros Thomas, Young Peoples Worker, Gateway Community Heath, Australia

Ron Unger LCSW, Chair of the Education Committee of ISPS-US
Joel Waddingham, Psychiatric Nurse, England, UK
Rachel Waddingham, Chair of INTERVOICE, England, UK
Dr. Angela Woods, Hearing the Voice, University of Durham, England, UK

References

Schizophrenia Commission Schizophrenia – The Abandoned Illness, Rethink, 2012
Time To Change Campaign
New survey shows schizophrenia remains widely misunderstood Source: Rethink, 18 September 2017
Schizophrenia – Symptoms & diagnosis Source: Rethink Website
Lawrence, C., Jones, J., & Cooper, M. (2010). Hearing Voices in a Non-Psychiatric Population, Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 38(3), 363-373; LC Johns, J Van Os (2010)The continuity of psychotic experiences in the general population, Clinical psychology review
Kråkvik B., Larøi F., Kalhovde A. M., Hugdahl K., Kompus K., Salvesen Ø., Stiles T. C. Vedul-Kjelsås E. (2015). Prevalence of auditory verbal hallucinations in a general population: A group comparison study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 56, 508–515.
Robin M. Murray, Mistakes I Have Made in My Research Career, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 43, Issue 2, 1 March 2017, Pages 253–256
Professor Jim van Os “Schizophrenia” does not exist,, British Medical Journal 2016; 352
Professor Marius Romme, How to solve the schizophrenia problem, 6th World Hearing Voices Congress Thessaloniki, Odysseying with the sirens, Congress speech, 2014
Have you got the wrong impression about schizophrenia? BBC News, 18 September 2017
Read, J., Haslam, N., Sayce, L. and Davies, E. (2006), Prejudice and schizophrenia: a review of the ‘mental illness is an illness like any other’ approach. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 114: 303–318
John Read, Jacqui Dillon Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis edited by
Filippo Varese, Feikje Smeets, Marjan Drukker, Ritsaert Lieverse, Tineke Lataster, Wolfgang Viechtbauer, John Read, Jim van Os, Richard P. Bentall; Childhood Adversities increase the Risk of Psychosis: A Meta-analysis of Patient-Contol, Prospective and Cross-sectional Cohort Studies, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 38, Issue 4, 18 June 2012, Pages 661–671
Morgan C, Gayer‐Anderson C. Childhood adversities and psychosis: evidence, challenges, implications. World Psychiatry. 2016;15(2):93-102. doi:10.1002/wps.20330.

 

Young People Who Hear Voices

We have updated our Young People Who Hear Voices page.

More information for young people and parents has been added.

You can visit the page here.

Young Voice Hearers Study

Dr. Sarah Parry and Dr. Filippo Varese of Manchester Metropolitan University in England, are conducting an investigation into young voice hearers (aged 10-18) and their parents to inform children’s services and interventions.
They will be recruiting for the study over the next year.
This is the new web link with details of the Young Voices Study and it would be great if you can circulate the link amongst your networks.
 For more info, here are some of their most recent articles by the researchers:
Caregivers and young people can also tell them about their experiences through their online surveys (links below)
Children (aged 13-18) who hear voices http://mmu.ac.uk/hearing-voices-children
Parents/carers of children who hear voices http://www.mmu.ac.uk/hearing-voices-parents
Additionally they have two social media accounts with tags @youngvoicestudy for the study:
See for more information for our page on Young People and Children Hearing Voices here.

Surviving College as a Voice Hearer

Article published by the British Columbia Hearing Voices Network, Canada. Diana Girsdansky reports on a workshop session at the recent World Hearing Voices Congress in Boston. A session led by Sarah and Alison, two voice hearers attending college who gave tips as how to survive as a voice hearer.

As Diana says:

“One of my favourite sessions was led by two women in their early twenties. Both are engaged students and voice-hearers, as well as being students of psychology at Mt. Holyoke, an elite women’s college in Massachusetts. They shared strategies on “How to Survive College as a Voice Hearer.””

Read the full article here

 

Why we Britons are so depressed, despite all those happy pills

“Consider this: we have some of the highest rates of antidepressant prescribing in the world — and this is rising. The NHS issued 64.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants last year, double the amount from a decade ago. Yet research also shows people are getting more depressed, not less. So what is going on?”

Read more here

Daily Mail, 18th September 2017

Listen To A Voice Of Reason – Article about Hywel Davies and the Hearing Voices Movement

Listen To A Voice Of Reason: An Interview with Hywel Davies
Western Telegraph
23rd August 2017

A MILFORD Haven man is devoting his life to supporting individuals who experience auditory hullucinations – voices in their head.
Hywel Davies first began to hear voices when he was 11 years old.
Now, some 52 years later, he spends his time and energy spearheading a pioneering network of groups seeking to broaden understanding and acceptance of the condition across the globe.
“I first began hearing voic­es in 1965,” said Hywel now 63. ‘
“To begin with it was posi­tive.
“The voices actually helped me through school, but when I turned 17 it became a bit frightening.”
Hywel spent the next 25 years coming to terms with the voices, unaware that there were other people deal­ing with the same issues.
Then his life changed.
“I subscribed to a magazine called Open Mind,” he said. In 1995 there was an article discussing voices I recognised myself in it. “I was a voice-hearer.”
The key is to help people understand that they can come to terms with their voices and live with them I recognised myself in it. Voices network.
The article discussed an upcoming conference on the subject in Maastricht in the Netherlands. The conference was led by Professor Marius Romme and Dr Sandra Escher, founders of the Hearing voices movement.
“My mother encouraged me to attend she said it would be like going to Sunday School.”
She said it in a posi­tive fashion.
Hywel attended.
What he learned there was to take him on a journey which saw him learning to better manage his own situation and take a leading role spreading the message of support and understanding others as part of the Hearing Voices network.
Key to this has been the changing of attitudes towards those hearing voices socially and professionally.
“Traditionally; if you told a psychiatrist you heard voices you would be sent to a mental health institution said Hywel.
“The problem with many mental health services are the still based in the early 20th century thinking.
“The traditional western medical view has been that the voices were caused by a chemical imbalance, which could be treated with med­ication.”
The use of anti-psychosis medication can prove detrimental to health.
“Medication can help – but it is not a cure,” said Hywel.
“It can in fact be detrimental.
The voices are real, not something that can be cured.
“Long term anti-psychosis medication use can reduce life as much as 20 years, but people are still being treated with inappropriate medication”.
The Hearing Voices move­ment encourages people to take control of their situa­tion without necessarily resorting to medi­cation.
“The tide is turning,” said Hywel.
“People are beginning to understand that this is not a psychological illness.
The Hearing voices network is not about anti-psychiatry, it is about complementary services.
“We support people who are desperate for help and parents who are desperate for help for their children.
“Children are often dismissed as having over-active imagination or are diagnosed with psychosis.
“It’s terrifying for them. Their parents are often at the end of their tether.
“The voices are often distressing and sometimes horrible. People think they are going mad.
“The key is to help people understand that they can come to terms with their voices and live with them.”
Key to the networks is recognising that the voices cannot be “cured”. They form part of the individual.
“It is about working with someone’s reality,” said Hywel
“Sometimes it is hard work, but it is about accepting the experience.
“It is important to build a relationship with the voices and have a dialogue with them.
“It is not about mastering the voices, but negotiating with them
“We work to enable people to control their voices and have a dialogue with them.
Hywel’s involvement with hearing voices has seen him travel the globe, speak­ing to a worldwide audience and helping to establish net­works in numerous countries.
He has personally played a significant role in devel­oping 34 international net­works and chairs Hearing Voices Network Cymru.
Hearing Voices Network Cymru currently distributes books and information, and has sent out more than 500 information packs to recipients in more than 50 countries all across the globe, including the USA and Australia.

This article has been amended from the original to correct factual errors.

Mental Health Summer Recovery Camp 2017

Mental Health Summer Recovery Camp 2017

Getting the Experience of a Recovery Community for Everyone

7th – 12th September 2017

Tanycoed Farm, Llansilin, Shropshire, SY10 9BS, Wales

Working To Recovery Ltd hosted their third Summer Recovery Camp.

The purpose was to create an environment of recovery and for everyone to experience it for themselves! Each year the Recovery Camp, grows organically, both leading up to it and during the Camp. During the Recovery Camp there were talks, debates, workshops, alternative therapy and a whole host of other things that happen.The morning begins with Chi Gong, Meditation and other practices. This was followed by a Morning Meeting when we all checked-in. This was followed by workshops. Workshops are run by anyone attending and so range from a whole host of areas.

After lunch, we had a ‘Big Tent Discussion’ – which is led by an invited speaker, who talks on a topic, opening up to a debate and discussion. Following this there were more workshops.

Throughout the day, there were taster sessions of alternative therapy (for donation) and a range of other things that organically grew throughout the camp – like EFT, Zen Tarot Readings, Energy Healing, etc…

The evening was a time to have fun, play and relax. On the last night there was a Mad Pride night, where anyone could stand-up and do a piece – poetry, story telling, singing, magic, comedy, whatever people can bring.

You can find out more about this highly recommended event here.

International Mental Health Congress


 
International Mental Health Congress

 18 & 19 July 2017 | All Nations Centre, Cardiff

The Congress was a great success. 250 people attended from all over Wales and across the globe.

Hywel Davies, chair of the Hearing Voices Network Cymru gave a keynote speech entitled “Living with Voices”. In the speech he said:

“By opening up the possibility of new ways of regarding the experience of voice hearing outside of the medical model we are creating more accepting and hopeful ways of considering so called psychotic experiences as meaningful and resolvable.

By involving users and carers creatively in the decision-making process in terms of policy, legislation, healthcare system and evaluation, we can bring about a more sensitive and humane approach to mental health in the western world. I believe that the lessons learnt over the last thirty years by the Hearing Voices Movement have much relevance to mental health services across the world. Furthermore, ensuring that the experience of people with lived experience is at the centre of thought and action in the recovery process is crucial to the successful development of emancipatory and effective mental healthcare systems …..

…. A principle lesson from my experience is the importance of encouraging voice hearers to talk and share experiences. The voices are not in themselves the problem, it is our relationship with our voices that can at times be overwhelming.

A problem shared is a problem halved.”

You can read Hywel Davies’s keynote speech here

A selection of photographs of the event can be seen here.

The right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

Hearing Voices Cymru signs Open Letter endorsing the Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

Mental Health Europe and the British Psychological Society are seeking signatories to a letter endorsing the recent and ground breaking United Nations Special Rapporteur’s report on mental health – to raise awareness of it among the media, policy makers and the mental health sector.

The report calls for a shift away from isolating mental health services which are coercive and inappropriately medicalised to ones that are recovery and community-based & promote social inclusion.

You can find the report here:

You can find the letter of support here:

Some quotes from the report:

  • “The history of psychiatry and mental health care is marked by egregious rights violations”
  • “We have been sold a myth that the best solutions for addressing mental health challenges are medications and other biomedical interventions”.
  • “Conventional wisdom based on a reductionist biomedical interpretation of complex mental health-related issues dominates mental health policies and services, even when not supported by research”.
  • “For decades now, an evidence base informed by experiential and scientific research has been accumulating in support of psychosocial, recovery-oriented services and support and non-coercive alternatives to existing services”.

We are one of a number of organisations from the UK, Europe and beyond that have signed.

If you or your organisation would be interested in signing, please contact [email protected] or email [email protected], and they’ll add your name.

 


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