Speaking up for selective mutism

Psychology student organises sponsored silence to raise awareness and funds.

A psychology student from the Open University is organising an event to raise awareness of selective mutism.

Sabrina Branwood is organising a sponsored silence to raise funds for charities including SMiRA and Young Minds. She told us: 'Selective Mutism (SM) is not a well known condition, and it's often misunderstood. Sufferers are regularly told, even by professionals, that they are choosing not to speak. In fact they can't speak in some situations because of extremely high levels of anxiety. The aim of the sponsored silence is to not only allow more people to hear of the condition, but for those who take on the challenge to gain a better understanding of what it's like to be trapped in a world of silence. I hope that people will understand just how hard it is to be silent in situations where you not only want to speak but quite often are expected to speak and sometimes need to be able to.'

Several psychologists have signed up to take part, including Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, Vice President of the British Psychological Society. He said: 'At the beginning of my career and when working as a clinical psychologist with people with learning disabilities, I was asked to see someone with the relatively rare and little understood condition known as selective mutism. The treatment, involving clinical hypnosis in that case, was really successful for the person involved and so when Sabrina and I met via Twitter and she suggested that I might join in a sponsored silence to raise awareness, I said that I would be delighted to take part. My sponsored silence will be on 31 August – it will involve no speech, writing, emailing, text messaging, use of social media whatsoever!'

- Find out more. Read more about the experiences of people with selective mutism, in their own words, on our Research Digest blog.

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