Posted in Health & Wellbeing, Social Issues

Stop Social Stigma

Treat Neurological and Mental Illness Equal to Physical Illness

We are all a little broken. But last time I checked broken crayons still colour the same.

Trent Shelton

Deep in the green belt of Buckinghamshire is the Epilepsy Society headquarters. Densely lined with trees, its secluded location is a stark reminder of the historical social stigma surrounding the neurological condition. The word epilepsy derives from the Greek word epilepsia, meaning falling sickness. In many cultures sufferers were victims of prejudice, considered possessed and even contagious. Like mental health patients they were often hidden away from public view, in hospitals and asylums. The uncorroborated, yet plausible origin of the term going round the bend, may literally refer to the journey up the long winding drive to incarceration.

Epilepsy Society has come a long way since its formation by a group of medical people and philanthropists in 1892. Then called The National Society for the Employment of Epileptics; its sole purpose was to build a colony of epilepsy sufferers capable of work but predominantly refused employment, because of social attitude toward their condition. In the early 1900s the charity became The National Society for Epileptics, which it remained until the 1970s, when in a phase of rebranding the word epileptic was considered derogatory and changed to epilepsy. Becoming predominantly research based, a team of medical and scientific specialists focused on improving anti-epileptic drugs. Within a decade the society was rapidly becoming internationally recognised, as leading the way in epilepsy treatment and improving overall wellbeing of patients. On New Years Day 2011 the charity rebranded once more. Simplifying its name to Epilepsy Society and ditching the orange logo in favour of the internationally recognised colour purple for epilepsy. Expanding not only medical research, but working with people affected by epilepsy, to increase awareness and influence the media, government and society into improving attitudes.

Our Vision

A full life for everybody affected by epilepsy.

Our Mission

To enhance the quality of life for people affected by epilepsy by promoting public awareness and education, by undertaking research and by delivering specialist medical care and support services.

Epilepsy Society

Epilepsy is only one of a range of brain conditions that throughout history has endured prejudice and stigma, mental health still floats in a cloud of suspicion and taboo. If a person cuts themselves we wash and dress the wound, we set broken bones in casts, treat illness with prescription drugs and relieve pain with painkillers. We don’t blush and bow our heads in shame, whispering acknowledgement at arms length. Why is mental health any different? A combination of research, initiatives like Heads Together, Mental Health Awareness Week and discussion by high profile people is reducing the social stigma surrounding neurological and mental illness, but there is still a long way to go before it is treated equal with physical health.

Mental health is not a dirty word – we all have mental health like we do physical health, good or ill.

Prince William Duke of Cambridge

Read the speech by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry for World Mental Health Day

Author:

A professional and creative writing graduate and proofreader. Hobbies include: reading, writing, walking, cycling, theatre, cooking, baking, arts, crafts and culture. An avid volunteer within the arts sector and supporter of improving mental health. Favourite quote: creativity is contagious passion. (Einstein)

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