Ahead of Purple Day, which aims to raise global awareness of epilepsy, one of the UK's largest epilepsy charities has highlighted the lack of support for teenagers with the condition in the North West, pointing out that they are four times more likely to experience mental health difficulties and report a lower quality of life than their peers.
Branding the lack of support for the 68,000 people with epilepsy in the north west "shocking", Epilepsy Action says that a new report published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has shown that a severe lack of specialist support is putting the mental health of children and young people with the condition at risk.
Despite those with epilepsy reporting a lower standing of life than others, the RCPCH's report also revealed that almost 90% of health boards and trusts do not offer any mental health support within epilepsy clinics while barely half the health boards and trusts currently provide epilepsy advice between specialist appointments when families need it most.
“The impact of epilepsy goes way beyond the seizures themselves," said Philip Lee, chief executive at Epilepsy Action. "Young people with epilepsy are particularly vulnerable to anxiety and depression, even when compared to those living with other chronic health conditions. They are at a heightened risk of suicidal thoughts.
"We know that these problems often go undiagnosed and untreated," Mr Lee added. "Teenagers with epilepsy need specialist mental health screening and support - it is shocking that most areas do not offer it. Epilepsy Action is working hard to bridge the gap, but it’s crucial that families get this help before they reach crisis point.”
On Purple Day (March 26th), people with epilepsy all over the world come together to share their epilepsy stories and raise awareness. Providing a range of support services and advice which can help teens adjust to their epilepsy diagnosis and feel less isolated by it, Epilepsy Action carry out crucial work.
For more information, head to epilepsy.org.uk/purple or call 01132 108 800.