About MCHVN in Montgomery County Pennsylvania:
We act as a source of information to voice hearers, families/allies—including those in the mental health system, and the general community. We aim to generate in society an awareness of the hearing voices experience and a better understanding and acceptance of voice hearers and their families/allies. We accomplish this through a collaborative approach among voice hearers, families/allies, service providers and mental health system staff and administrators. The MCHVN aims to provide a framework and an environment that facilitates the recovery processes of people who hear voices that are distressing to them. An important objective is to establish, facilitate, and support self-help/peer support groups for voice hearers. Another important purpose is to educate the wider community about the meanings of hearing voices, and to help reduce stigma and discrimination. The Network develops ongoing strategies and solutions through the integration of voice hearers and mental health professionals working together. This includes education for the mental health system, including service providers and users, other allies, and the general public.
The mission of the Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network is to promote recovery, acceptance and education about the experience of hearing voices.
A Brief History
Montgomery County was the first county in PA, and PA was one of only five states in the US to offer mutual support groups for individuals who hear voices (there are now 25 states). The availability of this support in PA and the introduction to the overall learning about voice hearing can be attributed to one person, Berta Britz, herself a voice hearer and employed at the time as a Certified Peer Specialist by Creating Increased Connections (CIC), a unit of Resources for Human Development. As a voice hearer for over 40 years, Berta conducted her own research and found the work of Professor Marius Romme, Sandra Escher, Ron Coleman and Paul Baker in the UK.
After reviewing the literature and utilizing the materials designed by these “experts,” Berta began to experience a greater sense of control of her voices, which for years had been extremely distressing and disruptive. Berta began to be more involved in the “network” of voice hearers, eventually attending International Voice Hearing Congresses in England, Italy and the US. Berta has also presented at the Italy and American Congress. Through these experiences, a “determined” Berta recommended that the Montgomery County community be exposed to this work and the opportunities it would afford to the voice hearers in our community and in our mental health system.