Guest blog: Rebekah Leedham on Migraine Awareness Week

8 Sep 2015

In the UK alone, 1 in 10 young people suffer with migraine. 18% of 13-14 year olds report migraines. Those under 30 are up to six times more likely to suffer from depression because of it.

I am the youth engagement coordinator at Migraine Action and I regularly hear about the impact that migraines can have on the life of a young person. Stories of missing school, struggling to concentrate or feeling misunderstood are unfortunately common. It can be a very challenging condition to live with. That is why we are here to provide support, raise awareness and, most importantly, listen.

Migraine Awareness Week is taking place from the 6-12 September and aims to raise awareness of this debilitating condition.  This year, we are focusing our efforts on young people. We know that migraine can have a substantial impact on every aspect of a young person’s life, as Imogen, aged 17, explains:

“I do find it an extremely difficult illness to explain and be understood. It has caused me to have to drop out of college and make extreme changes to my life.”

Imogen is not alone. All too often, young people are misdiagnosed, facing a barrage of different medications that do not touch their symptoms, whilst struggling to manage their attacks. Those who are fortunate enough to get a diagnosis have to continue to fight, but an entirely different battle; explaining to those who think it is just a headache that it is so much more – something that can sadly continue in the transition to adulthood. Eddie explains how migraines have impacted on his life:

“My migraines have been unpredictable, so I’ve tended to hang around more at home than go out with my friends. People don’t really understand when you say you have a migraine. They think you just have a headache, but it’s so much more!”

At Migraine Action, we strive for an inclusive society that would better support young people like Eddie. One that provides a safe space for young people affected by migraine and one where people better understand this debilitating health condition.

We have a wealth of resources including session plans for youth workers, teachers or volunteers to help raise awareness of migraine and support young people who suffer. We also have guides aimed at young people and lots of opportunities to get involved. In addition on 9 September as part of Migraine Awareness Week, we’re running an online chat for young people to help dispel myths and offer support. Find out more here.