Pioneering clinic for people who hear distressing voices to extend to children and young people

Our pioneering Voices Clinic is extending its service to a pilot in child and adolescent mental heath services (CAMHS).

Distressing voices (auditory hallucinations) are experienced by approximately 70% of adults with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and can have devastating effects due to high levels of distress, delayed recovery and an increased risk of suicide. But the experience of hearing voices is also common in young people. In fact, it is twice as common in young people compared with adults. 

Hearing voices is often a transient experience for young people and for many, the voices will fall silent as other issues in their life are resolved. Consequently, leading clinical researchers have recommended that mental health practitioners take a ‘curious but cautious’ approach to talking about voice hearing experiences with young people. This will involve talking about this ‘unseen’ experience and bringing it out into the open, but only offering a ‘light-touch’ intervention in the first instance.  

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of distressing voices. However, there are significant gaps in the provision of CBT nationwide. The Voices Clinic is a collaboration between clinical services and the Research & Development Department within Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It is designed to cross diagnostic and service boundaries to improve access to CBT for distressing voices.

The CAMHS pilot will run at a clinic in Hailsham. Practitioners within the team will be trained and supervised to deliver a brief intervention to their young clients who hear distressing voices, assisting the young people to develop and use strategies for coping with these experiences. This initiative will extend the learning that is currently being generated by a progamme of clinical research exploring the ways that young people and mental health practitioners talk about voice hearing experiences.

Click here for more information about the Voices Clinic