Please note: there is no Vancouver Visions and Voices Group Meeting on Good Friday, April 18th, 2014 because it is a stat holiday.
Hearing Voices Network
by Renea Mohammed
What is the Hearing Voices Network?
The Hearing Voices Movement was begun by Dr. Marius Romme, a professor of social psychiatry, science journalist Dr. Sandra Escher and voice-hearer Patsy Hage in 1987 – after Hage challenged Romme about why he couldn’t accept the reality of her voice hearing experience. As voice hearer Ron Coleman has said, if someone is hearing voices, something real is happening. The Hearing Voices Network began in 1988 with the support of Romme and has since expanded to countries including Wales, Scotland, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Hearing Voices Groups support people in learning ways to live well with their experiences, share strategies, make connections and know that they are not alone. The reputation of the Hearing Voices Network is growing as the limitations of a solely medical approach to voices become better known.
Why am I drawn to the Hearing Voices Network?
I remember a time when I was really struggling with the voices I heard. They were negative, nasty and constant. I was in such distress I was contemplating suicide. I was also on “extended leave”- a form on involuntary treatment taking place in the community that meant I was required to see a psychiatrist and case manager and to take medication. I remember going to my mandatory appointment with the case manager and telling her I needed to find new ways to cope with my voices. Her response was to tell me that the way to cope was to take medication. She then went on to talk about what a good medication I was on.
Only….I was already taking medication. I was still hearing voices. I wished that she had more tools to offer me. Sometimes medications take a long time to work. Sometimes they don’t work at all. Sometimes quality of life is severely impeded by side effects. I like the Hearing Voices Network because it offers more tools. It has the potential to change lives.
BC Hearing Voices Network
The BC Hearing Voices Network had it’s inaugural meeting on Nov. 21, 2013 with representatives from existing local Hearing Voices Network Support Groups. The first local group established in BC is the support group run by North Shore Community Psychiatric Services. The second is run by Vancouver Community Mental Health and Addiction Services through the Peer Support Program. The third is offered in Tertiary Mental Health Services. The movement is growing. A hearing voices group for youth has recently been started by the Unitarian Church. A fifth group is looking to start in the community. The UBC Masters in Occupational Therapy Program is looking at doing a related research project to add to the evidence base for these groups.
Interested in attending?
The group run through Vancouver Community Mental Health and Addiction services is open to anyone with experience seeing visions or hearing voices as well as their allies. You do not have to be a client of the mental health system. It is a peer-led, drop-in support group. For more information, you can call 604-708-5276 or see the flyer below.
The North Shore Group is also open to community members. For information on the North Shore Hearing Voices Network Group you can call: 604-983-6020.
For information on the youth oriented Hearing Voices Network Group run by the Unitarian Church call 604-261-7204 and leave a message for Diana.
Hope you can make it!