Posted in Services

Groups and Activities

The groups and activities we offer are all based around wellbeing and socialising. Isolation has a huge impact on our community and those suffering from mental health within Dundee. The activities we offer fall under two categories, social and support. Our social groups allows people to make new friends and learn skills.

The support groups are open to anyone with a mental health problem not just those hear voices, unless otherwise stated in the group information. To find out more information about a specific group or getting involved please get in touch.

  •  Men only support group (voice hearers only)
  •  Woman only support group (voice hearers only)
  •  Peer support (completed peer 2 peer training and have shared experiences)
  •  Befriending ( befrienders have to complete befriending training)
  •  OCD support group
  •  Allotment
  • Craft Group
  • Music Group
  • Meditation

We are hoping to create more groups for our service users and one of which is a media group.

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Our drop-in centre is helped to run smoothly thanks to our wonderful and caring volunteers, they are the heart of our organisation.  Volunteering is a great way to gain confidence, learn new skills, improve your CV and meet new people. We have many different opportunities availability, some of which are:

  • Cafe Assistant
  • Receptionist
  • Allotment/Gardening Assistant
  • Group Facilitator
  • Befriending/ Peer to Peer Support
  • Volunteer Drop-In Worker

We are also open to ideas for different projects. Currently we want to get a media group set up to manage our social media and website. If this is something you would be interested in, please get in touch.

We value our volunteers and offer a relaxed environment to work in. If there is something you are unable to do or struggling with, we are adaptable (where we can be) so that you are able to succeed in your role.

If you are interested in volunteering with us please contact us:


Call: 01382 223023




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Three Phases of Voice Hearing

Research has shown that there are three phases in Voice Hearing:

  1. Starting Phase: Named this way because of the Hearer’s discovery of the Voices, which often startles them and cause them to deny the experience and withdraw into themselves. This leads to a sense of isolation, and a fear of madness itself.
  2. Coping Organisational Phase: After Voice Hearers’  initial surprise of the existence of the Voices, they will gradually start normalising the experience, trying to understand and communicate with them. This is a long process whereby the   Hearer must overcome his fright and wish to escape, to ultimately accept the existence of the Voices.
  3. Stabilisation Phase: Once the existence of the Voices becomes accepted, the Hearers move on to make them part of their everyday life, however, assuming the control of their acts and choices, as opposed to obeying the demands the Voices make.

Involvement in a Hearing Voices Self-help group can help individuals progress through the three stages by creating acceptance, offering mutual support and coping strategies.

The work of the Hearing Voices Network is the cutting edge of enlightened practise. Self-help groups offer another option which can be used in conjunction with existing therapies such as, medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, etc.


For more information about Hearing Voices or the different stages, visit the following pages:


Posted in Uncategorized

HaVeN Community Cafe

HaVeN Community Cafe isn’t just in the center of our building it is part of the core of us. We offer a hearty meal at lunchtime everyday (as long as we have volunteers in the kichen!). The Cafe is run by our volunteers who work together to provide good food at affordable prices to all our visitors. We also offer teas, coffees, juices, toasties, hot and cold rolls to name a few and are always looking for suggestions on what we can offer.

Cafe or cafeteria interior illustration of cartoon patisserie ...

Above all, our Cafe serves to bring our community together, whether for a chat, a safe space to sit awhile or just for something tasty to get you through the day.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank all the organisations that have been working with us by providing the food we serve at our cafe.  With a special mention to Fareshare, Tesco, Asda and Greggs, their support allows usto create a warm safe space within our building.

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Short-Term Coping Techniques

Considering coping techniques, we have distinguished three types, each of which are relevant to one or more of the three phases that voice hearers go through:

  • Short-Term Techniques (Phase One): Focus on extending control over the voices by agreeing new behaviours with the voice hearer.
  • Medium-Term Techniques (Phase Two): Tackle specific interactions between hearer and voices, such as triggers, underlying belief systems and problems, etc.
  • Long-Term Techniques (Phase Three): Aims at a new way of dealing with hearing voices. This is when the underlying problems are dealt with. This cannot happen until the hearers have gained some control over the voices.

Short-Term Techniques

The short-term techniques described here have mainly been proposed by voice hearers featured in our case studies, who have used them with success in their lives to increase their control over the voices. People deal with voice hearing in different ways. Here we have listed the 10 most commonly used methods of coping, that will be further on explained along the Post:

  1. Replying to the voices.
  2. Designating a set time and duration for the voices,
  3. Dismissing the voices and duration for the voices.
  4. Writing down what the voices say and want.
  5. Checking whether what the voices say is true.
  6. Creating boundaries.
  7. Postponing orders.
  8. Substituting different orders and learning to express anger.
  9. Anticipating the voices.
  10. Talking to somebody about the voices.

1. Replying to the Voices

This consists on giving short responses to the Voices one hears, such as, “yes, you are right” or “no, you are wrong”. This is suitable when the Voices either reflect what the Hearer is doing, or comment on it. For instance, a Hearer, in this case Marieke, might be standing at the front door waiting to go out, when the voices say: “Marieke is going out”. It is likely that she secretly feels the Voice’s statement is a criticism that would usually make her question her decision. That is, she could be thinking “Shall I go out, or is there something more useful I should be doing?”. For this reason, Marieke should then just reply: “Yes, I’m going out”, which will infuse her with confidence and make things easier.

This is the simplest technique. As we can see, it is not about arguing with the voice, but about answering honestly without causing problems. The Voice might be right, in which case the answer is “Yes”, or wrong, in which case it is “No”. This can also be effective in the case of perceiving criticism or insinuation from the Voices. The Hearer should stay and answer to the superficial message, the one stating “the facts”, and ignore the possibility of there being a hidden or subtle intention to their words. It is important not to get involved in discussion with them. This technique is about defining your position and learning to stand up for your own choices in a simple direct fashion.

2. Designating a set Time and Duration

This requires discipline, and works better when Hearers are less afraid of their voices. It is ideal for when Voices are disrupting one’s activities, to be able to make more time for ordinary living.  In these cases, the Hearer should make an appointment with his Voices to listen to them for a restricted amount of time, that can last from 5 to 30 minutes, at a time of the day that suits him. Any other time outside of this frame, the Hearer should reject the Voices by saying, “Not now, later, at such and such time”.

It is a good idea to be systematic and constant about the timings and durations of the appointment each day, lasting these for minimum 5 minutes and maximum one hour. In addition, it could be helpful, especially at the beginning, for Hearers to have a daily schedule of activities. This will make it easier for them to defer the Voices into a slot that does not disturb what they had planned to do. Activities can be anything, i.e. cooking, walking, reading, working, etc. The key is to concentrate on the activity, and ensure that the Voices are only allowed to make comments on these at their designated time.

Suppressing Voices is not easy. Hearers must remain strong and consistent with the agreement, and not let them skip it. Any agreement will depend on:

  • Having a set time and duration.
  • Paying proper attention to the voices in their assigned time.
  • Sticking to the agreement, even if it does not work at first.
  • Creating a reasonable balance between paying attention and ignoring the Voices.
  • Writing down the agreement to have an unambiguous physical reference of the conditions of the arrangements, which could also be read out loud. This will help the Hearer combat the Voices when these are not willing to comply.

3. Dismissing the Voices for a certain period

When the Voices are continuous, the previous technique will not work. However, it may be possible to send the Voices away for half-an-hour, while the Hearer occupies him- or herself with some absorbing activity. At the end of the agreed period, the voices must be allowed to return.

There is a variation to this technique if the Voices don’t come often, but appear at very inconvenient moments. Then the Hearer can make an excuse to leave the room or activity, going for example to the toilet, and talks and listens to the voices for two minutes in there. Once settled, the Hearer would return to what he or she was doing.

4. Writing down what the Voices say and want

Some people are so intimidated, that they cannot listen properly to the Voices. Hearers can help themselves by writing down what the Voices say, to based on this, later make a decision on what to do. If the Voice has said something useful, they can hang on to the piece of paper. However, if the advice is bad, Hearers can either put the paper to one side, throw it away or even post it without address. Even if the Voices seem to be talking nonsense, it is worth writing it down. This can later be taken to the therapy group or self-help group, or to anyone else the Hearer can talk things over with.

5. Checking whether what the Voices say are true

This technique stimulates opinion-forming and counteracts the Voices by checking whether what they are saying is true or not. For instance, a Voice may say “You are Lying”. There is more than one way to respond to this statement. You may become angry, or ashamed, or can even reply “You are right, but I’ve got good reasons”, or “You are wrong. What you are saying is simply not true because I didn’t say anything at all.”

For anyone who feels insecure about what they are doing, what they look like or what they want to say, this is an excellent technique to adopt, and one we all employ in our everyday life when we have a look at ourselves in the mirror. If a Voice is critical of someone’s appearance, standing in front of a mirror for a minute is all that is needed to check if what has been said is true or not. The Hearer can then, depending on whether they agree or not with the Voice, to make some changes. Not checking when this happens tends to make the Hearer feel more insecure, and the relationship with the Voice stays the same.

Checking builds a sense of security. Furthermore, it encourages decision-making, and obliges both Hearer and Voices to pay more attention to the reality of a situation.

6. Creating Boundaries

This is slightly more difficult to do. It implies that, as soon as the Voices say anything that is unacceptable, the Hearer must send them away. In this way, the Voices would only be able to stay on the Hearer’s terms. These rules are imparted in the same way as when bringing up young children, by setting limits on their bad behaviour. People who tend to put up with too much from their Voices or other people, should benefit from this method.

7. Postponing Orders

Voices can be at times very demanding and impatient, making Hearers feel forced to respond or do what they want straight away. Finding a way to reduce the pressure and release the emotions brought by the Voices can be helpful. Most of the emotions tend to disappear quickly, within approximately an hour. Nevertheless, they are important to bear in mind and time them.

The object of the technique is to learn, to wait and see what happens when the Hearer doesn’t try to counteract nor comply to the Voices. In this role of interested observers, Hearers will discover that if they don’t do anything, it will be the Voices who get wound up. When the Voices are issuing orders, the longer the Hearer can wait the better. They should start by waiting one minute before doing what the Voices want and seeing what happens. Then, if nothing happens, start increasing the time lapse next time.

8. Substituting different orders and learning to express anger

This technique is similar to “Postponing Orders”, but it is especially useful when the Voice’s orders are very threatening or disturbing, urging Hearers to kill or hurt someone. This is normally related to the Hearer’s inability to express anger, which is then expressed by the Voices but with much more intensity. Psychology tells us that when we cannot express anger, this only increases and comes back at us like a boomerang. Thus, finding a way of expressing anger is vital. This can be done in many different ways, such as hitting a cushion, punching a ball hard, buying a set of drums to beat, or choosing a sport that is utterly exhausting. Everyone has to find out what suits them best if they are to put it into use.

Later on, it would be a matter of learning to think why they are so angry, discussing where that anger should be directed to, then owning up to having a problem with anger, and exploring what this is about. The last part is the hardest of all, as it often requires an intermediate stage of hitting punch balls, etc.

Hearers who want to follow this technique, should take the following steps:

  1. Listen carefully to what the Voice says.
  2. Wait a few minutes to make sure the Voice has been heard right.
  3. Write down what the Voice said.
  4. Think and write down 10 alternative ways of expressing anger.

9. Anticipating the Voices

This technique focuses on finding solutions to situations before they arise. For example, Janet goes to a party with her boyfriend. At midnight, the Voices tell her to go home. This causes an argument with her boyfriend, who wants to stay longer. But if Janet stays, the Voices will create a lot of extra noise inside her head. However, Janet has learned to anticipate these kind of situations by striking an agreement before going to the party on the time they would be going home. By doing this, she is not troubled by the Voices, nor does she get into an argument with her boyfriend. Anticipating situations successfully means becoming aware of potential triggers and finding a solution to them.

10. Talking to somebody about the voices

By talking about the Voices, Hearers can overcome feelings of shame and anxiety. This works best if the other person is also a Voice Hearer, as there is a greater feeling of recognition and relief in discovering that other people also experience similar problems. It can also provide individuals with more insight into how other people address their Voices, changing as a result the relationship with their own.

For more information about this topic, read Chapter 15 of Making Sense of Voices, by Marius Romme, 1999.

Posted in Training

Scottish Mental Health First Aid Training

Scottish Mental Health First Aid Training Scottish Mental Health First Aid is based upon an Australian course which was first brought to Scotland in 2003 by Betty Kitchener. Since then over 40,000 have attended the training throughout Scotland and there are over 300 SMHFA instructors in Scotland. The current course was created in 2009. The training is run all year round and you can either join one of our planned training groups or request a course to be run dependent on confirmed number of participants. SMHFA is a 12-hour course and is presented in a variety of ways with the participants taken into consideration, for instance it can be 6, 2 hour sessions or two full day sessions.

During the course participants learn how to respond to someone experiencing a mental health crisis and learn about the mental health problems that occur most frequently. There is also some skill development in areas such as active listening and appropriate questioning techniques. After the training all participants receive a certificate of attendance and a manual to use as a reference guide.

What is in the course?

* How to apply the 5 steps of SMHFA.
* How to respond if you believe someone is at risk of suicide.
* How to give immediate help until professional help is available.
* What to say and do in a crisis.
* The importance of good listening skills.
* Practice listening and responding.
* Understanding recovery from mental health problems.
* Understanding the connection between mental health problems and alcohol and drugs.
* Understanding the connection between mental health problems and discrimination.
* Some basic information about common mental health problems.
* Self-help information.

What benefits are there for being a SMHFA?

* Most people don’t know what to do in a mental health crisis. Take the course and you will be one of the few who knows what to do and is confident about putting that knowledge into action.
* You will learn how to recognize when a person might need help and the best way to approach them.
* You could save a life by learning basic suicide intervention skills.
* You will learn what protects your own and other people’s mental health.
* You will learn new skills that are useful in every part of your life
* Know how to listen calmly to their feelings and fears
* Give some simple information
* Advise them on where to get appropriate help

Information taken from SMHFA website, found here.

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Bridging the Gap Project

Bridging the Gap is a 5 year Project coordinated by our Manager, Administrator and Finance Officer. Hearing Voices Network has been awarded funding by the Big Lottery Fund, to develop a Befriending Service. The scheme is for anyone living in the Dundee area who is experiencing mental health illness, is in receipt of a service, is socially isolated and/or who could benefit from the support and encouragement a volunteer befriender could provide.

What is a Befriender?

A Befriender is someone who respects you for who you are, encourages you to be more confident in yourself, and holds an interest in heart to be with you and support you through your difficulties. A Befriender has an understanding of the problems arising from mental distress, and offers support and understanding. However, a Befriender is not a medical professional, a social worker nor a counsellor; and their service is neither judgmental nor compulsory. It is an unpaid voluntary position. What do Befrienders do? Befrienders meet up with you on a regular basis to take part in activities you both enjoy, there are no recommended activities and it is completely between you and your befriender on what activity you decide on. The timings and place for meeting are arranged between yourself and the befriender but there is additional guidance and support available from the scheme coordinator if needed. How do I become a Befriender? The first step in becoming a befriender is to contact us. We have a contact form on our contact page, or just click here and make sure you make the subject “Befriending Volunteering”. We will then send you an information pack with all the information you need to know before deciding if you want to go ahead to the formal befriender training.

Do I need any qualifications?

Nope! You do not need to have any formal qualifications to become a Befriender the only things you need to have and be willing to commit to are listed before

* A valid Disclosure Scotland certification, click here for the application form.
* Befrienders must be 18 years old or over
* Hold an interest in contributing to make a positive change in the local community.
* Hold a desire to develop their people skills by being open and meeting new people.
* Able to commit a couple of hours a week to meet with your assigned friend.

A review and reflection will be run every 6 months to evaluate the running the Befriending journey, i.e. whether the relationship is having a positive effect on both members involved

Why should I become a befriender?

Being a befriender is basically being a friend to someone who, for whatever reason, may need a friend but find it difficult to form friendships or finds it difficult to meet new people. The befriending relationship hopes benefits for both people in the friendship. For the Befriended, they gain support, reduced social isolation and take part in something they enjoy just to name a few benefits. For the Befriender there are also quite a few benefits, such as the ones listed below.

* The opportunity to witness the effect their companionship and advice born from their own experience has on the life of the person they are befriending.
* Gain insight into other people’s experiences, which might retrospectively help them in their day to day.
* Becoming a Befriender involves a journey of personal growth and recovery.
* Gain further knowledge about Mental Health.
* Travel expenses and insurance are ensured for all volunteered engaged in Befriending on behalf of the Hearing Voices Network

National Lottery, Big Lottery Fund logo

Posted in Training

HaVeN Training Pathways

HaVeN training pathways is funded by the NHS Tayside community innovation fund and is a project which aims to support voice hearings through a variety of training opportunities designed to enhance their skills, confidence and mental wellbeing whilst also providing support to others. The training can also be undertaken by non-voice hearers who wish to continue building on or learn how to support others as well as those who are planning on or are currently studying/working in the care sector.

The project has been split into phases, at the moment the project is in ‘Phase One’ which has a focus of Personal Development and Recovery.

This theme provides voice hearers with valuable workshops that will be carried out within the Hearing Voices Network Dundee (See here for directions and contact details) premises on a rolling basis. These courses will focus on recognizing and building upon participants’ strengths. This will hopefully build the individuals confidence and lead being able to support others and commit to a lengthier supporting recovery training course. The theme of Recover support is also touched on helping those who hear voices to build upon their lived experiences and assist in empowering and mutually beneficially to develop their skills and allow the participant to offer peer support if this is something they wish to take part in. Topics in Phase One are expected to include:

* Knowing Myself

* Hidden Talents

* Personal Narratives

* Non-Violent communications

* Healthy Relationships

* Boundaries

* Recovery

* Finding Personal Meaning in Voices

Also as part of Phase One, we are planning to create Ambassadors of recovery who are to build awareness and social acceptance for voice hearers and work to reduce and eventually remove the stigma that surrounds voice hearing and those who experience it. HaVeN will connect with local organizations, universities and other public sector organizations in Dundee and offer awareness raising workshops that could include simulation voice hearing and sharing personal recover stories of voice hearers who have benefited from HaVeNs services as well as found acceptance and validation.


Posted in Services, Uncategorized

Peer Support at the HaVeN

Many people who have experienced episodes of mental illness, know only too well how difficult it can be to get the help that you need at the time that you need it. They also know how beneficial it can be to speak to someone who really understands, first handedly, what it’s like to have extraordinary experiences.

Peer support can be thought of as someone with lived experience of mental health problems, offering support to an other in similar situation. This support can provided on  practical, emotional or social issues. Either way, this peer-to-peer support is  beneficial to the self esteem of both parties involved.

Peer support can be formal or informal. At the Haven, we offer peer-led support groups for all aspects of living with mental illness and also specifically for voice hearing and other extraordinary experiences. We also provide one-to-one peer informal support or mentoring, where we match the needs of the person seeking help with the experiences of the person providing the support.

Peer mentoring and befriending is an informal way of providing peer support. Our experienced and trained peer support volunteers offer their services on a regular basis to the acute wards at Carseview and also at other organisations in Dundee. This enables people to start building supportive relationships with outside agencies before being discharged, easing the transition from living in wards to moving back into the community.

Many of the peer support volunteers also deliver training and awareness sessions for professionals, medical students, nursing students and other outside agencies. The team has carried out seminars with first year mental health nursing students at Abertay University in the past. On one of those occasions, one student commented that:

‘I’d just like to say how amazing I found yesterday’s class. The speakers were inspirational, and the group work and discussion was one of the best I’ve been part of since starting university. I learned so much and just wanted to pass it on and say: Thank you’. (Nurse Student)