Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM), held each June in the U.S., is a vital opportunity for the migraine advocacy community, patients, health care providers, and pharmaceutical companies to make a difference together. It is incredibly encouraging each year to see organizations and individuals pull together both by creating materials and helping share them, and there is an atmosphere of hope that is generated for so many. Hope that is often not found for those who live with migraine and other disabling headache disorders. So how is MHAM making a difference, and what have been some of the highlights this year so far?
Making a Difference
- Together We Raise Awareness: Raising awareness about the reality of migraine and other headache disorders is crucial. As we share evidence-based information about the symptoms experienced during migraine attacks, the impact of those symptoms, and the struggle to find effective, tolerable treatments, we see a trickle-down effect that helps bring about change.
- Together We Fight Stigma: Fighting migraine stigma is essential because people who live with migraine, and especially chronic migraine, are often highly stigmatized throughout society. They face judgement, skepticism, and lack of understanding. Stigma makes change all the harder, and it makes living with a chronic disease much more challenging.
- Together We Push for More Research: As we raise awareness and fight migraine stigma, we find ourselves better able to advocate for research. For the level of disability and prevalence of headache disorders there is a shocking lack of research funding, and this is something that desperately needs to change.
- Together We Empower Patient Voices: This is a key focus of our own organization, Migraine Meanderings, as well as MHAM which provides a key platform. By empowering patient voices we see people who live with migraine speaking out and sharing their stories, challenges and successes. We see increased advocacy for change and disease awareness. We see people better able to manage life with a chronic disease because they are able to discover new purpose and value.
Highlights of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month
There are so many things about Migraine and Headache Awareness Month which are highlights, but here are just a few that stand out from this year so far (we’d love to hear from you what you like most about MHAM):
- Migraine Behind the Mask: seeking to lift the mask that covers the reality of migraine, this annual project releases photos and quotes of people every year together with a powerful video – CLICK HERE to watch this year’s video! If you are looking for something easy to share, this is a great place to start!
- Shades for Migraine: this event, held this year on June 21, is a favorite of many as we ask people to wear a pair of shades, take a photo, and share it on social media. It’s an easy way for anyone to get involved in migraine advocacy, and we see a lot of creativity that is inspiring!
- Statistics: the new CHAMP Statistics Guide has released several stats this month, bringing the advocacy community together in agreement on some key numbers. This guide is key for helping raise awareness and reducing stigma about migraine, chronic migraine, and other headache disorders.
- Men with Migraine: seeking to remove the myth that migraine is just a women’s disease, the observance day for men on June 18, is a great way to let people know that men get migraine attacks too! Watch our own Men with Migraine video and please share to help raise awareness.
- Migraine at Work: there was a fabulous blog on June 1 by Marina Medved from Parenting with Migraine offering 3 tips for managing migraine at work. SUCH an important topic when living with an unpredictable disease where migraine attacks can easily be triggered by things such as lights, seating, noise, scents, and more! If you haven’t read this blog yet then now would be a great time to circle back!
- Educate Yourself, Educate Others: and last but not least, preparing for the MHAM theme on May 31, a blog written by me, Shoshana Lipson, together with Kelly Amspacher. This year the MHAM theme is “Educate Yourself, Educate Others” and this blog presented 5 Ways to Educate Yourself and Others About Migraine. If you’re looking for some ideas about how to get more educated, or how to educate others, this is a great place to start!
I, for one, am encouraged by this year’s events. As we continue to fight migraine stigma, raise awareness, push for more research, and empower patients, together we are making a difference. Migraine and other headache disorders are often disabling in our lives. They strip us of hope, instill fear of the future, and isolate. However, as we come together one month a year and unite our voices, there is light on the horizon. A hope that one day people who live with these diseases will be able to reclaim their quality of life, that our children and grandchildren won’t have to go through the struggles we face currently, and even… that eventually there will be a cure for migraine and all other headache disorders!
Let Us Know
What is your experience of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month? Has it been positive or encouraging? What have you liked the most? And… what do you think is still missing and we need to do next year?