Purple Day – educating the world about epilepsy

| March 26, 2013

On Purple Day, Epilepsy Action Australia CEO, Carol Ireland, explains why we need to raise awareness about epilepsy and breakdown lingering misconceptions.

It’s time to go purple. Purple Day is a global effort dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness. Epilepsy is the world’s most common serious brain disorder with an estimated 50 million people across the globe currently living with the condition.

In Australia epilepsy is currently impacting the lives of over 225,000 Australians and their families. It is estimated that over three per cent of the Australian population will be diagnosed with epilepsy within their lifetime, yet it largely remains a misunderstood – a condition surrounded by myth and fear.

Motivated by her own challenges with epilepsy, a young nine-year-old Canadian girl named Cassidy Megan founded Purple Day in 2008 in an attempt to encourage people to talk about epilepsy and inform those who live with seizures that they are not alone. She named the day Purple Day after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.

There are more people with epilepsy than with muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease and several others combined. It is an unpredictable and often debilitating condition. Sadly however, due to a social stigma and misconceptions associated with epilepsy, many people do not disclose their condition. This, of course, has led to low community awareness about epilepsy.

Epilepsy Action Australia is the national provider of education and support services for people with epilepsy, their families, professional service providers, and the general community. The organisation provides vital and often life-saving education and support services to children and adults with epilepsy or other seizure disorders across Australia.

Driven by a vision of helping Australian’s live confidently despite seizures, Epilepsy Action Australia is once again embracing Purple Day to encourage Australians to raise much needed epilepsy awareness through Purple Day fundraising activities. Many Australians with epilepsy have reported being isolated because people were scared of their seizures. Some even conceal their condition from friends and colleagues rather than risk further rejection. Raising awareness about epilepsy to the general public is challenging, so we realised we needed to say it differently than we’ve ever done before if we are to capture people’s attention.

Purple Day, along with other social media campaigns, encourage people to talk about epilepsy, especially those in the general community who may not have any existing relationship or exposure to epilepsy. These conversations need to happen far and wide if we are to raise awareness about epilepsy and break down the stigma that still seems to exist in the community.

Anyone can help play a pivotal role in raising the profile of epilepsy and help raise funds for Australian families whose lives have been impacted by this unpredictable and distressing condition.