Peer support and counselling

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Supporting someone who is distressed by their voices can be stressful because there can be a dilemma about sharing the impact it has versus respecting the privacy of the voice hearer. Many people say it helps to find somewhere safe and confidential to voice concerns and share strategies.

Some people find counselling or psychotherapy helpful, and some areas have low cost counselling. Local mental health charities, such as local MINDs, Rethinks and Carers’ Trust Network Partners sometimes offer a limited number of free sessions for carers, low cost counselling, or peer support groups. Cause offers a helpline, local carer support groups and one-to-one carer support in Northern Ireland.

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GPs can request a referral for counselling via IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Support), although there can be a waiting list and some people are assessed as only needing support via online programmes. Some Community Mental Health Teams offer support sessions for carers.

Some hearing voices groups have open sessions that welcome family members and/or supporters too.

Voice Collective run an online forum for young people aged up to 25 who hear voices, see visions, have other ‘unusual’ sensory experiences or beliefs, with a separate forum area for parents and carers.

Talk to someone you trust, join a group, join an online forum (useful if you prefer anonymity or find it difficult to get out for any reason) speak to your doctor, seek help from your faith group, ring a helpline, ring the Samaritans (you do not have to be suicidal).


Stigma about voice-hearing can stop carers from seeking support because they fear others’ judgements or prejudice or simple lack of understanding. Carers of young people who hear voices and have a mental health diagnosis say that they often feel like ‘an alien’. When they hear friends worrying about children not getting good exam results or wanting some trainers they can’t afford to buy them, they wonder what the fuss is about; their worries seem trivial in comparison. It’s good therefore to have at least one person you can talk to who knows what it’s like to support a voice-hearer.



Information about different options for dealing with distressing voices, including medication, talking therapies and peer support.

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