Mindfulness for Voices – Research Study

Can mindfulness help people with auditory hallucinations?

“It helps me to shut the voices out when I do the exercises. It taught me that I’m not alone with the problem and that I can help myself.” James

Being distressed by hearing voices (‘auditory hallucinations’) is common across a range of mental health conditions, and is particularly common for people diagnosed with schizophrenia , affecting approximately 70% of people. Although for some hearing voices is comforting, for others it is often associated with high levels of distress, low self-esteem and social isolation.

In 2012 we invested in a pilot research study, led by Professor Paul Chadwick’s research team, to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a psychological intervention that uses mindfulness meditation within group based therapy to help people diagnosed with schizophrenia who hear voices.

Mindfulness meditation was adapted by the research team for people who hear voices to focus on helping people to learn new ways of managing and living with their voices. The intervention incorporates elements of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy but emphasises the principles and practices of mindfulness meditation.

The results from the study suggested that the therapy was beneficial as voice hearers reported lessening distress, improved personal control and improved psychological health. All of the benefits were maintained a month after the study.

“You learn new things about yourself. That you’ve got resources and assets to call on to help you deal with your illness. I never thought I was going to be working on something that I’ve already got.” Neil

Following the pilot, the research team successfully applied to the Department of Health’s National Institute for Health Research for funding to conduct a randomised controlled trial, which will complete in November 2014. If mindfulness therapy is proven effective, then support will be offered to mental health teams to provide group therapy to people with schizophrenia.

How you can help

Whether you make a donation, attend an event or fundraise for us, every penny will help make life better for people with mental health problems.