Hearing voices

It can be scary if you’re hearing or sensing things that other people don’t. But you don’t have to deal with these things by yourself. Whatever’s happening, there are ways to cope.

Making sense of things

Lots of young people hear, see, feel, smell or taste things that other people don’t. Hearing voices and other unusual sensory experiences can sometimes be a symptom of a mental health condition. But lots of people who have these experiences are able to live with them as part of their life.

Sometimes hearing voices can:

• distract you, or make it difficult to concentrate
• leave you feeling scared or upset
• give you comfort or support
• feel overwhelming
• make you feel like you have to do things that you don't want to
• make you feel less confident.

If you’re worried about what’s happening, we can support you.

It's important to remember:

1. you don't have to cope on your own

2. talking about things really helps

3. slow deep breaths can calm you down

4. distracting yourself can help you focus on other things

5. our counsellors are always here for you.

Why do i feel like this?

It can feel confusing if you're hearing voices or seeing things (hallucinations). You might ask yourself “am I going mad?" or be worried about your mental health.

Experiencing things that other people don’t doesn’t always mean that you’re “going mad” or have a mental health condition. 1 in 10 young people will hear voices. For many, they’ll gradually fade away. And some people find them comforting or supportive.

You might hear voices or see things after:

• being abused, bullied, or hurt by someone
• going through a trauma or difficult time
• taking illegal drugs
• not getting enough sleep
• having a very high temperature.

But you might not always know the reason. Hearing voices can also be part of psychosis. This might make you feel worried about what other people are thinking, or like someone might be trying to hurt you. If you’re ever worried, you should speak to your doctor.

getting help and support

When you’re seeing, hearing or sensing things that other people don’t, it can sometimes be upsetting or scary. And it can be difficult to know how to cope. These things can help:

  • Listen to music. Pick music that helps you to feel happy or safe. You could also try an audiobook or podcast.
  • Distract yourself. Focus on something you enjoy or be creative. Keeping yourself busy can help you to concentrate on something other than the voices.
  • Keep your mind busy.Take time to name all of the things in your room. Or name all of the members of your family or people in your class at school.
  • Focus on your breathing. Taking deep slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Write about how you’re feeling. You could keep a diary of what’s been happening, or write down what most worries you and put it away somewhere. You can also track your feelings with our mood journal.
  • Speak back. If you feel safe to, answering back to your voices calmly and politely can help you feel more in control.

Find out more about hearing voices

When you’re scared it can help to understand more about what’s going on. There’s lots of information and ways to cope at the Voice Collective and Mind website.

ways to ground yourself

Grounding yourself means focusing on things right now. It can help you to cope when you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed or upset. If your voices are making it hard to focus you could try asking yourself these questions:

1. Where am I?
2. What is today?
3. What is the date?
4. What is the month?
5. What is the year?
6. How old am I?
7. What season is it?

You could also write down these questions and answer them.

Telling someone how you feel

It can be scary telling someone that you hear voices or sense things that other people don’t. But it’s important to remember that you’ve not done anything wrong. Telling someone about what’s happening can help you to feel more in control and find new ways to cope.

If you’re scared about telling someone face to face, you could write a letter or send a message saying what’s happening. Find out more about speaking to an adult you trust.

You can also talk to a Childline counsellor or join a peer support network with the Voice Collective.