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International Epilepsy Day 2023 – Say No to Stigma

International Epilepsy Day 2023 - Say No to Stigma


Today is International Epilepsy Day. It is celebrated every year on the second Monday of February and is organised by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). The aim is to raise awareness about epilepsy and its impact on individuals, families and communities around the world.

The focus of this year’s campaign is ‘Say no to stigma’. Epilepsy is estimated to affect around 50 million people of all ages across the world, and many of these people are stigmatised because of their condition. Some people with epilepsy say that dealing with the stigma attached to epilepsy is more difficult than dealing with the condition itself.

Say no to Stigma

People with epilepsy are subject to stigma and discrimination because of a lack of understanding about the condition.
For centuries, there was a widespread belief that epilepsy was caused by the possession of evil spirits, witchcraft or other supernatural causes. These beliefs still persist in some parts of the world and people with epilepsy are often treated by traditional healers, so don’t have access to effective medicine.

However, even in countries where epilepsy is recognised as a neurological condition and treated by medical doctors, such as the UK, people with the condition are still stigmatised and subject to discrimination. Part of the problem is a lack of understanding about epilepsy. Many people assume that epilepsy is a mental illness and that it seriously limits activities. In fact, although some people will have some limits on their activities, many people with epilepsy can work, go to school, drive and take part in a wide range of sports and hobbies, as long as they have the right treatment and support.

Stigma can have a very damaging effect on quality of life.

By sharing positive messages, we can all help to reduce the stigma and help to improve the lives of people with epilepsy.

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– Article by Kim Rutter

Kim Rutter is a Social Care Consultant who has worked as communications manager with the Social Care Institute of Excellence (SCIE) for close to two decades. Her articles offer a unique insight on developments within the Care Sector.