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Published:18 April 2013

Call for charities to challenge stigma

Public awareness of epilepsy has changed little over the last 10 years, according to a survey published today (April 18). Around one in five people would try to restrain someone during an epileptic seizure and two per cent of the population still believe epilepsy is contagious.

The report is ‘extremely disappointing’ according to the charity Epilepsy Society who commissioned the survey.

The charity’s spokesperson Amanda Cleaver said:  'Greater public awareness of epilepsy 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.'

The charity first ran a public attitudes survey in 2003.

Survey findings disappointing

Commented Amanda:  'Even today a quarter of people would still put something in a person’s mouth to stop them swallowing their tongue during a seizure  and more people than ever would call an ambulance – 89 per cent compared to 77 per cent  10 years ago. Calling an ambulance isn’t always necessary and is expensive.  An emergency and unnecessary admission to hospital costs around £1,000.  The survey findings 10 years on are extremely disappointing.'

Around 1 in 100 people in the UK has epilepsy and it can affect anyone of any age, at any time in their life.

Today Epilepsy Society is calling on charities within the neurological sector to come together and make a public stand to tackle stigma.

Epilepsy Society’s chief executive Graham Faulkner said:  'It’s time to tackle public awareness head on, combat stigma and improve the lives of everyone affected by neurological conditions – not just epilepsy. We have several partners in the field of neurology and stigma seems to be an issue which is common to us all. By taking a "pan- neurology" approach I believe we can make a significant impact and change attitudes once and for all. I think we have a lot to learn from the mentalhealth charities who have been working together on this one issue and have achieved remarkable results.”

Epilepsy Society will be hosting a ‘stigma summit ‘meeting in June.

Find out more about Epilepsy Society's challenging stigma campaign and how you can get involved.

Listen to the charity's stigma champions talking about the impact that epilepsy has had on their lives.