Research study to pilot new school-based support for young people who are hearing voices

3 November 2023

A group of Sussex researchers are partnering with universities and school mental health support teams to pilot a school-based programme to help young people in West Sussex who are hearing voices to access support more quickly.

The new research study called ECHOES (Evaluating a Coping intervention for Hearing voices in Young People in Secondary schools) has been developed by researchers at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, University of Lancaster, University of Sussex, and Thought-full (the provider of the Mental Health Support Teams in West Sussex). The study is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

The study will pilot the delivery of psychological interventions - originally developed within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) - in schools, with an aim of increasing access and reducing waiting times for support. In addition to one-to-one sessions for the young person, workshops will be offered to the young person's support network, such as school staff, family members and friends. The feedback from these groups will then be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot.

According to national charity the Voice Collective, 1 in 8 young people experience voice hearing, which for some can be comforting or humorous, but for others can be frightening and unsettling.

Professor Mark Hayward, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Sussex Voices Clinic, is leading the study: "We have been offering interventions in CAMHS for several years, and due to current service demands, young people often have to wait several months to receive an intervention.

We developed the ECHOES study to support young people who are distressed by hearing voices to get help much more quickly, and reduce the likelihood that they will require support from CAMHS in the future.

We're hopeful that trying to help earlier might make a real difference to the mental health of young people at this important time in their development."

The study will open in November and interventions will be delivered to three groups of participants from selected secondary schools in West Sussex:

  1. Students who have self-referred or have been referred to the study
  2. Supporters (family members, friends, etc) who have been nominated by the students
  3. School staff who have responsibilities for pastoral care of students.

To find out more about the Trust's current research studies, go to, or for more information about the ECHOES study, email