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Mindful of migraine workplaces

Mindful of migraine workplaces

Helen Balami, head of The Migraine Trust’s advocacy service reports on its latest campaign



Many people were shocked by last year’s Work Foundation report which revealed the high numbers of employees who were struggling with migraine. It estimated that 43 million workdays are lost every year in the UK due to migraine.

We weren’t shocked at all, and have long known the serious impact that migraine can have on a person’s working life.

A large proportion of the people seeking help from The Migraine Trust are looking for support with workplace issues. Many feel that their employer does not understand what migraine is, or in some cases doesn’t even recognise that it is a complex neurological condition and not ‘just a headache’.

This is a serious issue as, while employers can’t always prevent an employee from having a migraine attack, they can make a significant difference on how it impacts on their work.

Workplaces can exacerbate the condition but, on the other hand, they can also help someone manage it.

That is why The Migraine Trust is advocating for workplaces to be ‘Mindful of migraine’. 

Mindful of migraine workplaces

By mindful of migraine, we believe that employers need to:

  • be aware of the high numbers of people who get migraine, that it is very common and that there is a strong possibility that someone they employ might get migraine
  • have an understanding that it is a complex neurological condition and that people can experience migraine very differently
  • make reasonable adjustments once they become aware that they have an employee whose migraine is affecting their day to day activities. This could be considering flexible working practices and looking at how their physical environment can be adjusted to help prevent the triggering of a migraine.

An employee’s GP or neurologist, or an occupational health practitioner, can advise on whether a person is likely to be covered under the Equality Act 2010, and help identify any changes that would be helpful.

While being mindful of migraine won’t mean that people with migraine never struggle at work again, we believe it is an important step in helping people with migraine work.

We know this because, as well as stories of people with migraine struggling at work, we also hear of people with supportive employers, support that enabled them to work and learn successfully despite their migraine.  

The Migraine Trust has produced a toolkit, Help at work, which provides general information about ways to manage migraine in the workplace.

To keep up to date on all things migraine related, you can sign up to The Migraine Trust e-bulletin at migrainetrust.org, and by following us on Twitter – @MigraineTrust and Facebook – themigrainetrust

The Migraine Trust’s advocacy service can be reached via its website or by calling 0203 9510 150