Hearing voices

Explains what it is like to hear voices, where to go for help if you need it, and what others can do to support someone who is struggling with hearing voices.

This page is for family or friends who want to support someone who is hearing voices.

If someone you care about hears voices you might find it hard to understand what they are experiencing. You might not know how to help. But there are lots of positive things you can do to support them.

  • Accept that their experience of the voices is real. Everyone will have a unique experience of hearing voices and will think about their voices in different ways. You can help by accepting their experience as real - even if you find it hard to understand.
  • Try not to make judgments about what hearing voices means for them. Some people don't talk about their voices because they are worried their friends and family won't understand or will assume they are seriously ill.
  • Learn their triggers. Learn more about whether there are particular situations or experiences that trigger their voices.
  • Remember they are still the same person. Hearing voices doesn't change who they are.

"My family and friends didn't judge me which I think made it a lot easier for me to deal with."

  • Ask them what would help. Avoid making assumptions about what they find difficult. Different people want different support at different times. Sometimes the best thing to do can be to ask them what, if anything, you can do to help.
  • Reassure them that they are not alone. Lots of people who hear voices don't realise that other people do too. It can also help to reassure them that hearing voices does not necessarily mean that they are ill. There are lots of reasons why people hear voices.
  • Encourage them to talk about their experience. They may want to talk to you or to a doctor, support worker or other people who hear voices.

"Eventually I did confide in one of my closes friends. He told me without any drama that it was a fairly normal reaction to a highly stressful situation."

This information was published in October 2018. We will revise it in 2021.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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