June has been designated as Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM). Many of us work on awareness all year, but June is the month when we try to get as many people involved as possible because increased awareness has the potential to improve lives.
This year’s Awareness Month theme is Rule Your Headache Disorder, with an additional message encouraging us all to be actively engaged in our treatment, a primary way to rule our disorders.
This year’s theme is a bit different from those of previous years in that it’s focused more toward people living with migraine and other headache disorders more than the general public. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to reach out to people who need help with their migraine management and for us to review what we’re doing to see how we can improve our own. To “rule” our headache disorders, we have to take charge of our health and health care and “be actively engaged” in our own treatment. That means:
- continuing to learn;
- getting ourselves to a doctor who understands migraine and is willing to answer questions and work with us;
- working with our doctors as treatment partners;
- talking with our doctors about lifestyle modifications that can help with our migraine management, then actually making modifications; and
- insisting that our doctors review all the options, then make decisions WITH us rather than FOR us.
Of course, building awareness in the general public is essential too. Too many people who don’t have migraine disease or another headache disorder still think, “A headache is a headache. Take some Tylenol.” If we want awareness to increase and stigma to decrease, we can’t sit back and wait for it to happen on its own or for other people to do it for us. Each of us needs to take part in raising awareness. We have some information and tools you can use and share to help raise awareness:
- Teaching Others About Migraine - A Letter to Use. This article includes a link to a letter about migraine, in PDF format, that you can email to people or print to give to people.
- Making Migraines Visible slideshow
- 14 Migraine Truths slideshow
We have a new activity for awareness month this year, a social media challenge. We’ve put together a fact about migraine or another headache disorder for each day of June. The challenge is to share them every day via social media to raise awareness. If you blog, you can certainly blog about each day’s fact. If you don’t, Tweeting them and / or posting them on Facebook work too. Whatever social media platforms you may use, I hope you’ll take the challenge and join us. You can find the challenge information on my personal blog, Putting Our Heads Together.
During June, please wear purple (our awareness color), share information, work on ruling YOUR headache disorder, join us for the Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Social Medic Challenge, and do anything you can think of to help raise awareness about migraine and other headache disorders. We can use the month to help others and ourselves.
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.