About Voices & Visions: The Basics

Lots of people hear, see or experience things that other people don’t. If this rings true for you, or someone you know, you’re not alone. Want to find out more? Keep reading.

What are voices & visions?

When we’re talking about voices and visions, we’re talking about people seeing, hearing or sensing things that other people around them don’t. Some people have experiences which comfort, inspire or make them laugh. Others have ones that are more frightening and confusing. Many have a bit of both.

Check out our animation (made by young people who hear voices or see visions) to find out more:

How common is it?

Question markMost people think that hearing voices and seeing visions is pretty unusual. Ask around, though. Have you ever heard your mobile ring (or felt it vibrate) when no-one was calling? Have you ever heard someone call your name when no-one’s there? 7 out of 10 people have.

Ok, so this doesn’t mean they’re hearing/seeing things every day – but it’s in the same ballpark.

Researchers from south London (Laurens et al, 2007) found that around 30% of 9-12 year olds experienced hearing voices and just under 30% had seen a vision. Researchers from Ireland found that about 1 in 5 11-13 year olds had heard voices, whereas only 7% of older teens said that this happened to them.

Research varies, but around 8% of young people hear or see things regularly – so, if you’re one of those people … you’re not alone.

All kinds of people have these experiences (even famous people!). For the majority, it’s not a problem (in fact in some cultures it’s seen as a gift!). Still, 1 in 3 people feel overwhelmed by it and need extra support from the mental health services.

Postcard - Can you tell who hears voices? Front