Every now and then I get asked to share something and I think why not. This was one of those email conversations. I am pleased to say I don’t have epilepsy, nor do my family. But I know it’s a very common condition and have worked with people with the condition. I know so little about it, so I’ll hand you over to John from Young Epilepsy for a guest post…
Did you know that epilepsy affects 112,000 children and young people aged 25 and under in the UK? Put very simply, at every secondary school there will be five children on the register that have been diagnosed with the condition (the figure for primary schools is an average of one child per school).
Epilepsy is also very misunderstood. Most people will tell you it’s all about having seizures. In fact epilepsy can have far-reaching consequences. While epilepsy hasn’t featured on this blog before, mental health issues such as depression and low self esteem have, and these are both common amongst individuals with epilepsy. That’s before you look at issues such as misdiagnosis, the impact on education not to mention social stigma.
So why is epilepsy featuring on Julie’s Notebook when the author doesn’t have the condition herself? The reason is very simple; it’s National Epilepsy Week (18 – 24 May, 2014). In particular two charities; Young Epilepsy and Epilepsy Society, have come together with fashion retailer River Island to help raise awareness of this widespread condition.
The trio have launched a campaign called Everyone Knows Someone. The campaign is designed to get everyone talking about this hidden condition. The idea is to increase understanding and reduce the stigma that is faced by all those living with epilepsy (500,000 in the UK if you include adults as well).
The campaign has its own website, www.everyoneknowssomeone.org.uk, and everyone, whether they have a direct link to epilepsy or not, is encouraged to visit. Anyone that visits the site will be able to read real life epilepsy stories, and complete an epilepsy quiz for a chance to win a £500 River Island shopping spree.
Carol Long, Chief Executive at Young Epilepsy, said; “The Everyone knows Someone campaign is a fantastic way of increasing the awareness of epilepsy, a misunderstood condition that can have serious implications on a young person’s life.
“Working with River Island we will be able to spread epilepsy awareness to even more people across the UK. Our hope is that one day that people with epilepsy will not face stigma and that they won’t feel the need to hide their condition.”
Dr Sallie Baxendale, Consultant Neuropsychologist at Epilepsy Society said: “This initiative with River Island is a great opportunity to raise awareness of epilepsy. Once you start talking about epilepsy it’s amazing how many people know someone with the condition. Greater public awareness is one of the biggest issues for people living with the condition. Busting the myths and misconceptions will help banish the stigma people with epilepsy often experience.”