New help for those tormented by 'voices'

New help for those tormented by 'voices'
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MELISSA Roberts was 14 when she began hearing voices.

She was terrified of "Ron", a male voice who told her to kill her family.

Her parents, Bruce and Faye Roberts, of Woronora Heights, did everything they could to seek treatment for their daughter and help her live a normal life.

Melissa took her own life on August 26, 2010. She was 27.

The Roberts family have now established the Melissa Roberts Foundation for people who suffer the torment of hearing distressing voices.

The foundation acts as a fund-raising entity for the Hearing Voices Network NSW (HOPE), a health promotion charity that Mr Roberts, 60, helped establish in 2008.

Studies have shown about 6 per cent of the adult population has auditory hallucinations. In children under 12, the figure is between 8 and 10 per cent.

Auditory hallucinations are a typical diagnostic feature of psychosis, most commonly schizophrenia, and can include other sensations.

Mr Roberts said the good news was that with the right support, a voice hearer could have a meaningful life.

He said recovery was not necessarily the absence of voices but the ability to live with the voices with minimal distress.

"A coping voice hearer doesn't fear the voices, [but] a disabled voice hearer leads a life the voices choose for them," Mr Roberts said.

"Melissa was an excellent sportsperson and a high achiever but the voices created fear in her."

Mr Roberts said that with support the foundation could establish more self-help groups for voice hearers in Sydney and regional NSW.

The foundation also supports other organisations in NSW that promote recovery for voice hearers.

The first meeting of the Sutherland Shire/St George group will be held at Sutherland on July 3 from 5pm to 6.30pm.

Details/donations: melissarobertsfoundation.org.au or hvnnsw.org.au or Mr Roberts, 0425 334 244.