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The need for online peer support is urgent

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Ensure that people and families can access Hearing Voices supports now

Sign up for a monthly donation today and bring peer and family support into homes around the world, helping people to stay sheltered safely during this critical time of physical distancing.

Whether you shelter in place or serve your community in an essential capacity, we can all come together to bring online peer support to individuals and to their families now when they need it most.

If you are in need of peer or family support, check out the current list of phone and online supports offered during the pandemic.

Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, mental health systems have been failing people who hear voices, see visions, and/or have other related experiences. Mental health care costs have skyrocketed at the same time that minimal options have been available, and outcomes have worsened. Now, as we are facing an unprecedented level of emergency, financial distress, fear, and uncertainty in the U.S. and beyond, our systems are as ill prepared as ever to respond to the demand.

Social distancing has taken coping strategies away from voice-hearers
The pandemic is defined by isolation and ‘social distancing,’ and for many people who hear voices, isolation is nothing new. However, the forced nature of the current circumstances mixed with the uncertainty of what happens next has changed the intensity and content of people’s experiences. This has resulted in a dramatic increase in distressing voices and visions for many across the globe.

Under normal circumstances, such experiences might lead someone to look for a local group operating under the umbrella of the Hearing Voices Network (HVN) or meet up with someone else who’s navigated something similar. But, unfortunately, distress has increased at the same time that many of people’s usual coping strategies have been taken off the table for lack of alignment with “stay at home” requirements.

New life-saving online options are available, but more are needed
Right now, under stay-at-home orders, voice hearers and their families may be confined individually or together over extended periods of crisis and uncertainty. Yet, new on-line options are popping up that may be life saving for some.

Much like in person meetings, online Hearing Voices groups operate as a part of the HVN and offer fellowship, solidarity, and an opportunity to make sense of distressing experiences during a time when it is needed more than ever. Similarly, Hearing Voices friends and family groups equip participants with the skills to support themselves and their loved ones, and build understanding all around.

The transition to facilitating online rather than in-person groups involves a particular set of skills, including attention to sensitive privacy and security matters; managing multiple technical aspects; and minimizing disruptions to ensure the best quality experience for all.

Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (WMRLC) director of training Caroline Mazel-Carlton and lead trainer Cindy Marty Hadge, both longtime Hearing Voices facilitators and trainers, have the experience to help other Hearing Voices facilitators to make the transition as smooth as possible, for both themselves and participants.

With the support of Open Excellence, even prior to the current pandemic, Mazel-Carlton co-founded the first online Hearing Voices group for voice hearers in 2017, and Hadge co-founded the first on-line group for family, and friends in 2019.

People and families experiencing distress and crisis need all the support they can access, and they need it right now. Open Excellence and our partners are doing all we can to respond to these urgent needs. Over the past weeks, grant-funded work has included:

  • A rapid expansion of Hearing Voices Network (HVN) supports online, for voice-hearers as well as friends and families;
  • Workshops focused on Hearing Voices online group facilitation skill development;
  • Ongoing support and technical assistance for Hearing Voices online facilitators; and
  • Working toward longer-term capacity so as to sustain some of the on-line meetings for people who live in areas where no in-person meetings were available even before the pandemic struck.

What your investment will do
During the month of March, there has been great progress in scaffolding the infrastructure to bring HVN groups online. Together, we can expand and sustain that infrastructure. Your investment today will:

  • Bring HVN online groups and workshops to as many people as possible in the USA and across the globe;
  • Develop and disseminate new training and support materials related to modified coping strategies that work under our these present day circumstances;
  • Provide ongoing technical support to Hearing Voices facilitators to ensure online groups run smoothly, are aligned with HVN values, and provide the critical sense of connection that HVN is known for;
  • Ensure ongoing networking opportunities for Hearing Voices group facilitators;
  • Support family and friends of voice hearers with a foundational online course in HVN principles and approaches, designed especially for them; and
  • Scale up existing online Hearing Voices supports for military veterans.

Even when physical distancing guidelines are relaxed when the pandemic subsides, the strong HVN online infrastructure we create today will make these groups accessible to a wider circle of people than ever before: disabled people, youth, people in rural areas or those for whom in-person groups are not yet available, and those who feel more comfortable participating virtually than in person.

The Hearing Voices Network USA (HVN-USA) Charter refers to the groups as “communities where people can find acceptance, belonging, purpose, and space to explore and learn about one’s self, their experiences and their connections with others and the world.”

These vital community spaces are needed, now more urgently than ever. Thank you for considering a monthly investment to support this ongoing, lifesaving work.

For more information:


With your help, we are leading a revolution in mental health care: Writing a new narrative of hope, freedom, informed choice, and healing care; Funding independent research and journalism to expose faulty practices and make new discoveries; and Developing healing practices and programs that save lives.

Can we count on you to keep this discovery and innovation going strong?

Support what you love by making a gift to some of the worthy funds listed below:

  • American Association of Community Psychiatrists Fund
  • Established by the American Association of Community Psychiatrists “to encourage, equip and empower community and public psychiatrists to develop and implement policies and high-quality practices that promote individual, family and community resilience and recovery.” Community psychiatry has a long tradition of serving persons with significant mental health challenges and other underserved populations. Important elements of this service have been person centered care, encouraging personal growth, autonomy, collaborative relationships, community connections and support, and ultimately improving the effectiveness of services for those who need them.

  • Bill Anthony General Research Fund
  • This fund launched the first Excellence-funded Open Dialogue research in the United States, added several papers by Dr. Martin Harrow to the research base on the impact of long-term use of antipsychotics for schizophrenia and funded the evaluation of proposed national quality standards for children's mental health care. Next up: a pediatric psychiatry team at Dartmouth is awaiting donor support to study a deprescribing protocol to help children safely off psychotropic drugs.

  • Challenge Match
  • Open Society Foundations has pledged an $800,000 matching grant as a catalyst in 2021 to expand the world-changing work that our visionary donors have been pioneering for the last nine years. We need your help to get there!

  • Collaborative Pathway Fund
  • The Collaborative Pathway program at Advocates Inc. in Massachusetts was the first Open Dialogue pilot project funded by Excellence donors and it is still going strong. The Collaborative Pathway Fund enables the team to serve families of ordinary means by supplementing their health insurance with philanthropic support. Fund donations will also support the necessary research to show the safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of this clinical model so that it can be adopted by communities across the nation and the world.

  • Empathic Therapy Fund
  • The Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education & Living supports research, education, publications and conferences that foster caring, respectful human relationships. Founded by psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, MD, and Ginger Ross Breggin.

  • FolkTime Fund
  • The Folktime Fund will secure the future of FolkTime’s peer support programs for generations to come through the planned giving of its founders and other friends of FolkTime. FolkTime serves the metro area of Portland, Oregon.

  • Global Mental Health Fund
  • The Global Mental Health Fund provides mentors and funding to health programs in low and middle-income countries to establish and assess psychiatric rehabilitation models that are tailored to the unique needs of each community.

  • Hearing Voices Network - Pacific Rim
  • Donors are capitalizing on the heart and expertise of Hearing Voices Puget Sound facilitators by sponsoring new facilitator trainings along the west coast of North America and around the Pacific Rim.

  • Hearing Voices Research & Development Fund
  • Led by Dr. Gail Hornstein at Mt Holyoke College with the dedication and expertise of Western Mass RLC trainers Caroline Mazel-Carlton and Cindy Marty Hadge, this fund has planted more than 50 new Hearing Voices support groups across the United States, supports online groups for family and friends of voice hearers, for those without a local group, and in this time of global quarantine, for many more who are not able to meet in person. The team also provides technical support to new and developing facilitators. Survey data from group participants will be analyzed and published over the next few years to speed the adoption of the Hearing Voices approach in the Americas.

  • Holistic Healing Fund
  • This is the first long-term study assessing the medical and economic effectiveness of the Disease-Centered Model and the Patient-Centered Approach. It will assist in reducing the cost of treatment, improving the outcome and quality of life for patients suffering from Anxiety, Depression and Bipolar Disorders who failed to respond to conventional treatments. Founded by Dr. Michael Gurevich,

  • Independent professional mental health reporting
  • Investigative reporting and in-depth coverage of innovative mental health efforts around the world with a multi-year collaboration between Excellence and Emmy-winning science journalist and author Robert Whitaker and the freelance and staff writers at the MadInAmerica webzine. They are also compiling a comprehensive digital catalog of important scientific journal articles which have been neglected by corporate media outlets.
  • Inner Fire Fund
  • The Inner Fire Fund is launching a proactive, healing community at Grace Brook Farm in Brookline, Vermont, offering a choice for people to recover from debilitating and traumatic life challenges without the use of psychotropic medications. Donations cover the cost of capital construction and implementation personnel as well as the projected cash-flow deficit during the ramp-up stage of operations.

  • Intentional Peer Support Fund
  • The Intentional Peer Support Fund is speeding the expansion of its innovative peer support curriculum to serve a wider variety of cultures and provide scholarships to people who would otherwise not be able to access the training.

  • International Leadership Academy Fund
  • The International Leadership Academy Fund prepares persons with lived experiences of mental ill health and recovery to take on leadership roles within their own local, regional, and national systems of care across the globe. Led by a team at Yale School of Medicine Psychiatry Department, it has graduated cohorts in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

  • International Research and Development Collaborative on Open Dialogue
  • This International Open Dialogue Research and Development Collaborative is now in the planning phase of a multi-year, multi-site research project to promote and assess the fidelity of Open Dialogue practice and evaluate its effectiveness internationally. It is coordinated by the Italian National Research Council and involve an international Advisory Board of twenty Open Dialogue experts.

  • ISEPP New Standard of Care Fund
  • An International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry effort with the goal of identifying, studying and promoting safe, humane approaches to helping those with mental disorders. Examples of such approaches are psychotherapy, residences based on the Soteria model, non-drug help for persons in early psychosis, peer support and other recovery-based approaches.

  • Nutrition & Mental Health Research Fund
  • The Nutrition and Mental Health Research Fund supports research and education on the ability of multi-nutrient treatments to reverse and prevent the onset of psychiatric symptoms. It has already raised its initial goal of $1,000,000 for the first round of research grants and is now accepting donations for round two.

  • Open Dialogue Training Scholarship Fund
  • With your help, we can train a generation of Open Dialogue practitioners and bring better, safer care to people in extreme states. Please give today to provide scholarships to these world-changers.

  • Open Path Psychotherapy Collective Fund
  • Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a network of like-minded mental health clinicians dedicated to reaching individuals and families who can neither afford therapy sessions nor qualify for government aid. The Collective matches participating clinicians with individuals in need of local, in-office mental health care at a steeply reduced rate.

  • RxISK Prize
  • The RxISK Prize is a movement powered by people whose sexual functioning has been destroyed by SSRIs, isotretinoin or finasteride, aimed at drawing attention to and finding an answer for this common devastating problem. The fund has collected over $60K of its $100K goal, but more importantly, it is helping focus efforts to find a cure.
  • Susanna & Jeff Brinlee Beautiful Minds Wellness Fund
  • Beautiful Minds Wellness’ mission is to make comprehensive, wholistic mental health care accessible to those in need with construction of the Beautiful Minds Wellness Mental Health & Wellness Campus in Auburn, California.