How to cope with hearing voices

About voices, who hears them and how to cope if they are a problem.

Your stories

Hearing voices

Posted on 09/01/2013

Hearing voices with bipolar disorder

Katie, who has bipolar disorder, describes her experience of hearing voices when she is manic or depressed.

Posted on 16/12/2014

He/ She/ They/ It

In the first part of Lilith's blog, they share their experience of gender identity and hearing voices.

Posted on 20/07/2015

What's it like to live with voices?

Although your experience of living with voices will be unique to you, this page explores some situations, questions and feelings you might recognise.

Your relationship with your voices

You may have different feelings about your voices at different times in your life - or even at different times of the day or week. You might:

  • find your voices comforting, helpful or even funny
  • find your voices frightening and want them to stop
  • find you hear some voices that you like and other voices that cause you problems
  • worry that you are the only one who hears the sort of voices that you hear
  • not be sure whether other people have these experiences too

Often voices are a problem because of your relationship with them rather than just because you hear them. Thinking about your relationship with your voices can help you work out what (if anything) you want to do about them.

See our pages on managing your voices and treatment for more information about the support available.

What if I like my voices?

Some people can find hearing voices a positive experience. Your voices might be friendly and supportive. You may welcome them and miss them if they stopped. They might make you feel better or encourage you during difficult times.

Can my voice be my friend?

It isn't always easy to work out whether your voices want the best for you or not. They might feel friendly but tell you to do things that make it harder for you to look after yourself or live the life you want. If your voice feels comforting it can be hard to recognise that they might be manipulative or harmful.

I first started hearing voices when I was developing my anorexia. My voices were my best friend. I thought she just wanted the best for me... she was extremely manipulative and whatever she said I would do.

Watch Lilith talk about how hearing voices lead them to commit arson and how a local paper's disclosure of their mental health problems made them confront their problems at a very difficult time and before they were ready.

Difficult experiences of voices

You might find your experience of hearing voices quite difficult:

My voices are harder to deal with at specific times

  • You might only hear voices at certain times. This might be every day (for example, at mealtimes) or at certain times of year (for example, at the anniversary of a particular event or experience).
  • You may only hear voices in certain places. For example, you might hear voices when you leave the house or when you go to a place which you associate with stress or trauma.
  • You may find your voices are louder and more frequent when you feel stressed.

This may mean you avoid certain places or experiences - or find them very difficult.

I don’t feel able to control my voices

  • You may feel that your voices are controlling you or stopping you from doing things that you would really like to do.
  • Your voices might interrupt your thoughts and make it very difficult to concentrate or hold a conversation.

I had an interview .. I left the house and the whispering started, growing steadily louder until I eventually fled home drenched in sweat and absolutely terrified.

I feel threatened or upset by my voice

Your voices might:

  • be unkind to you, and criticise and undermine you
  • tell you to do things that are wrong

These experiences are likely to make you upset, scared or angry. You might feel you deserve to be shouted at and that it's difficult to stand up to anyone.

My voices make me lash out or hurt other people

  • Your voices might demand that you hurt other people or yourself. You might find it very difficult to resist doing what they say.
  • You may lash out at others or hurt yourself because your voices make you angry and frustrated.

Talking to other people

It can be hard to talk about hearing voices. The way other people react can make a big difference to your experience.

You may feel about to cope with your voices, but find that other people’s reactions are more of a problem, or you might feel you need to hide what your voices say or how often you hear them altogether.

You might find that other people:

I didn’t want to speak about it because that would somehow make it more real.

  • give your voices meanings or assume that your voices mean you are seriously ill
  • don't mind about your voices and accept them as part of who you are
  • don’t understand what hearing voices is like, which can be frustrating

It may be easier to talk about your voices if you choose someone who you trust and feel comfortable with. If you are worried about their reaction you could show them this information.

Facing stigma

Unfortunately some people have misconceptions about what it means to hear voices. They might think that hearing voices means you are dangerous or very unwell. This can be really upsetting, especially if the people who feel this way are family, friends or colleagues.

It's important to remember that you aren't alone and you don't have to put up with people treating you badly. Here are some options for you to think about:

  • Show people this information to help them understand more about what hearing voices is really like.
  • Talk to other people who hear voices by going to a support group - or setting one up for yourself.
  • Share your experience of hearing voices with others. Mind publishes blogs and video blogs.
  • Know your rights. Our pages on legal rights provide more information.
  • Take action with Mind. See our campaigning page for details of the different ways you can get involved with helping us challenge stigma.


This information was published in May 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

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