A new report has found that over half of people living with epilepsy who took part in a national survey said it was ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ talking about their mental health.
Martin Whitfield MSP is calling on the estimated 7,034 people living with epilepsy in South Scotland to open up about their mental health following concerns raised in a recent report published by a leading Scottish epilepsy charity.
718 people living with epilepsy responded to a survey by Epilepsy Scotland earlier this year which found that 33 per cent said it was ‘difficult’ talking about their mental health and a further 18 per cent said it was ‘very difficult’.
The Epilepsy on the Mind report revealed that between one in five and one third of people living with epilepsy in health boards in South Scotland who responded to the survey said they have depression and have anxiety. More than half of respondents in South Scotland said that their epilepsy has a “significant impact” on their mental health.
Nationally, 1 in 3 people said they have depression and 46 per cent said they have anxiety – 1 in 4 said they have both.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“There are estimated to be around 58,000 people in Scotland living with epilepsy, including around 7000 here in my South Scotland region.
“It is common for someone living with epilepsy to develop a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, as has been highlighted within the Epilepsy on the Mind report. Epilepsy is a serious and very complex condition which can impact so many aspects of a person’s life from relationships and social life to employment and education.
“Due to the link between epilepsy and mental health, I would encourage constituents living with epilepsy to seek support if they are struggling mentally. Epilepsy Scotland’s free and confidential helpline is an important source of information and their helpline officers can help you find the support you require.”
Ross Cunningham, Policy & Communications Manager at Epilepsy Scotland, added:
“Epilepsy Scotland is delighted to have the support of Martin Whitfield MSP in highlighting the findings of our Epilepsy on the Mind report and in encouraging more members of the public to open up about their mental health.
“Many people living with epilepsy find it challenging to open up, which is why raising awareness of this report and the link between epilepsy and mental health is so important. It can help to reduce the stigma of an often misunderstood condition and highlight the support available, including Epilepsy Scotland’s national helpline.
“It is extremely concerning that 1 in 3 people living with epilepsy in Scotland who took part in this survey said they have depression and almost half said they have anxiety.
“Epilepsy Scotland looks forward to working closely with MSPs across Parliament on the report’s recommendations to improve the lives of people living with epilepsy throughout Scotland.”