Volunteers needed for a youth mental health study which focuses on social relationships and hearing voices

A pioneering new study, that considers the social relationships of adolescents who receive care from mental health services and young people who experience ‘hearing voices’, is looking for volunteers.

The study by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, needs 100 volunteers aged 14 to 18 years old to take part in the Vista study, which stands for ‘voice-hearing in young people: distress factors and social relating’. Although the study has a focus on ‘hearing voices’, both young people that do and do not have experiences of ‘hearing voices’ are needed. 

Hearing voices that others cannot is a common in children and adolescents but if the voices are persistent and distressing it can be an indicator of a mental health problem which requires specialist support. 

There is currently little research about voice-hearing in young people, which is what the Vista study hopes to address and the results will help to inform new approaches to treatment and recovery.

Young people can take part in Vista, even if they have not experienced hearing voices, as the study will also explore young people’s social relationships more broadly. 

To take part a young person must be: 

• Aged 14 to 18 years
• Currently receiving treatment from Sussex Partnership’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Sussex or Hampshire, or Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) service.

Dr Mark Hayward, Director of Research at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that hearing voices is a common experience in young people, but little is known about the impact of this experience upon social relationships. The Vista study will look at the social lives, relationships and activities of 50 young people who hear voices, and 50 young people who do not. Our aim is to find improved ways to support young people who hear voices to be able to live their life well.

“The young people will complete questionnaires and take part in interviews across two or more sessions which can take place at a convenient location. These activities will focus on current or past difficulties that the young person has had in socialising, which for some may be due to hearing voices.

“The study is an opportunity for young people to share their experiences and be part of future improvements for mental health services.”

If you are interested in taking part in the study, or know somebody who would be, contact Kat Rammou, Principal Investigator for the project, at Aikaterini.Rammou@sussexpartnership.nhs.uk, or alternatively call 07391 868645. 

To find out more about the Vista study, go to www.sussex.ac.uk/spriglab/research/current/vista_study.