Did you know that research has shown that the social stigma associated with Migraine disease increases the burden of living with Migraines, and Migraine incurs more stigma than many other diseases, including epilepsy? 1
The stigma is so prevalent that most of us have experienced it at some time. Lack of understanding about Migraine disease is a primary factor in the continuation of this stigma. This lack of understanding is especially strong in the general public, as evidenced by many people suggesting that we take a couple of Tylenol or Excedrin for our “headaches.” Advertising for over-the-counter medications serve to make the stigma more pervasive because they portray Migraines as easy to treat.
Despite the awareness efforts of advocates and organizations, progress in educating the public about Migraine and other headache disorders, as well as reducing the stigma, has seemed slow.
Now, the American Migraine Foundation has launched the largest awareness initiative to date, Move Against Migraine. This is a very exciting long-term initiative. The purpose of Move Against Migraine is to empower the more than 36 million Americans living with Migraine to advocate for themselves to find the support and treatment they need.
Given the lack of awareness of the varied symptoms that can occur during Migraine attacks and the long-standing stigma associated with this disease, fewer than five percent of those with the most debilitating form of migraine have sought help, received a diagnosis, and been treated. 2
Move Against Migraine aims to help individuals learn more about Migraine and treatment options, as well as assist them in finding help by accessing Migraine experts and resources. Additionally, the initiative connects individuals with others in the community living with Migraine, as well as doctors and researchers in the field. It integrates advertising, public relations, social and digital media, as well as radio and television public service announcements.
David W. Dodick, M.D., and chair of the American Migraine Foundation, told me:
“The American Migraine Foundation’s Move Against Migraine campaign has lived up to every expectation and has been true to its call to action – so many across the country have joined our community and in unique and individual ways are now moving against Migraine by raising awareness, participating in advocacy efforts, finding help, and getting connected with other patients and specialists. We are thrilled with such a robust community response and we look forward to riding this wave of momentum to forever improve the awareness, understanding, care for patients and funding for research around Migraine and other diseases that cause severe and recurrent head pain.” 4
Meghan Buzby, Executive Director of the American Migraine Foundation said:
“The main goal of the Move Against Migraine public awareness campaign is to rebrand Migraine as a serious, neurological disabling disease. Not only are we increasing awareness across the country, but it’s also been incredible to watch our Migraine community grow exponentially as a result. Through the American Migraine Foundation website, we’re providing patients an opportunity to learn more about Migraine, find a Migraine and headache specialist, and get connected with other people living with the disease.” 5
The Move Against Migraine initiative is now in full swing and has more than 11,000 members in their Facebook community. On June 8, 2017, they had a Thunderclap campaign that allowed people to easily post to social media for Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Over 900,000 people participated that day.
For more information about Move Against Migraine, visit the American Migraine Foundation web site. These videos are also excellent sources of information:
Move Against Migraine Patient Announcement. Dr. David Dodick discusses the issues facing patients with Migraine and the launch of Move Against Migraine.
Move Against Migraine 60-second PSA. A 60-second PSA commercial about Migraine and Move Against Migraine.
Move Against Migraine will continue to offer ways for us to help raise awareness and reduce stigma. The initiative is a great way for us to find and use our voices. Their slogan is perfect: Together, we’re as relentless as Migraine.
1 Park J, Kempner J, Young W. “The Stigma of Migraine.” Poster presentation. 52nd annual meeting of the American Headache Society. Los Angeles. June, 2010.
2 Press Release. “Move Against Migraine illustrates the hidden truth about Migraine.” The American Migraine Foundation. Mount Royal, NJ. Marcy 20, 2017.
4 Email interview with Dr. David Dodick. August 9, 2017.
5 Email interview with Meghan Busby. August 9, 2017.
© Teri Robert, 2017.
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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+.