Category Archives: Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices Group Makes a Difference

 

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By Renea Mohammed

I recently spoke to someone who hears voices. She prefers that her name not be used and that she be identified by the pseudonym: West Coast Girl. She was diagnosed with schizencephaly, an extremely rare developmental birth defect characterized by abnormal slits, or clefts, in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain and which, in her case, has lead to the experience of hearing voices – voices that no one else can hear. The voices left her questioning what was real and what was not.

She also felt isolated by the experience and was thrilled to find a group made up of other voice hearers. She told me she was “so happy from the first meeting”. Everything people were saying related to what she was experiencing. She felt a sense of security in the group. She was not alone. People were saying things that “really clicked”.

She learned a new coping strategy: take a problem and put it in a box. Put the box out of reach. Keep it closed. Then, when you are ready, bring it out and deal with it.

She’s also developed her own strategies. She prays to St. Jude, the Patron Saint for impossible situations: the saint to pray to when things just look like they won’t turn out well. When she’s struggling she prays every day for 9 days. She tries to keep her mind focussed on prayer when she is stressed. She tries to get her brain calmed down through the process. She says she does it at bed time and it really helps. It’s the strongest coping tool she’s found so far. When things work out, she gives thanks that the problem was solved.

She’s shared this approach in the group and also heard about how others cope. She looks forward to going. When I asked her if she’d recommend it to someone else, she said she would.

The group West Coast Girl attends is a North Vancouver support group based on the International Hearing Voices Network. Similar groups have sprung up in Vancouver Community and in Tertiary Mental Health Services. The Fraser Health Authority is also looking at starting a group as is Victoria.

The Hearing Voices Movement that lead to the development of Hearing Voices Network Support Groups 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 one voice hearer, Ron Coleman, has said, if someone is hearing voices, something real is happening. The Hearing Voices Network bean in 1988 with the support of Romme and has since expanded to countries and regions 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 know.

For information:

About the North Vancouver Hearing Voices Group call: 604-984-5000, extension 5167

About Vancouver Hearing Voices Network Groups call: 604-708-5276

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Announcing the Hearing Voices Network Study Club

Hi all,

Just wanted to let you know about the Hearing Voices Network Study Club. Details are in the flyer below. This group is open to everyone. Cheers 🙂

Study Club Flyer

Hearing Voices Network

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.

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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!

TED Talk: Eleanor Longden Speaks about Hearing Voices

In this 14 minute video, Eleanor Longden does a TED talk on her experience of hearing voices. Hope you enjoy it!

Mental Health Matters – Hearing Voices from peerstv

Hearing voices can be a scary thing, but did you know it can also provide comfort to some? In this video, from peerstv, host Shannon Eliot chats with Adrian Bernard about the concept of hearing voices – the good, the bad, and what most people don’t know.

Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor from Intervoice: Hearing Voices Network

Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor  from from Working to Recovery recently came to Vancouver, BC and graciously agreed to be interviewed about the International Hearing Vocices Network for our blog site. One minor correction to the video: Ron is one of the founders of Intervoices, but is not currently connected with it. You can see his website at: http://www.workingtorecovery.co.uk/

Voices and Visions Support Group

The Vancouver Voices and Visions Support group is based on the International Hearing Voices Network and explores the theme of living well with voices and visions.  It is a peer lead pilot program of Consumer Involvement & Initiatives, Vancouver Coastal Health. Questions? Call 604-708-5276.

Below the Group Flyer, you’ll now see a flyer for some events related to hearing voices taking place on April 10 & 11. These events are sponsored by Vancouver Voices and Visions in partnership with the Human Diversity and Wellness Program of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.

 

 

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