A Child Nursing student has used a bout of ill-health to raise migraine awareness among young people – gaining BBC coverage and an Edge Hill Excellence Scholarship in the process.
Imogen Smith from Birkdale was diagnosed with chronic hemiplegic migraines soon after leaving school, which disrupted her transition into higher education.
According to charity The Migraine Trust, around one in seven people worldwide suffer from migraine attacks – while 190,000 migraine attacks occur daily in the UK.
Medication aided Imogen’s recovery, and she was able to return to her college studies before starting her degree in Child Nursing at Edge Hill.
The experience inspired Imogen to help other young adults and she began volunteering for Migraine Action.
“I wanted to help an organisation which had been so supportive for me at a time when I felt isolated and lonely,” said Imogen. “My sister and I ran a 5k to raise funds and through this I became a youth advocator for the charity.”
Her work involved raising migraine awareness, which included featuring in a video talking about her experiences, which was shown at National Citizen Service workshop days. This led to an appearance on BBC Radio Merseyside, where she explained the different symptoms and signs adults should look for if a child is suffering from migraines. Soon after, she gained selection for the NHS Youth Forum.
“I served for over two years, helping offer a voice for young people in healthcare. I worked with health professionals including members of Public Health England and Alder Hey, looking at different hospitals worldwide, and how we could use their initiatives to develop the UK’s most efficient health centre aimed at young people,” said Imogen. “This also included a Q&A session with 100 health care professionals, with the aim of helping improve the transition from children to adult services.”
“I was also given the opportunity to speak to pharmacists and health facilities about the prescribing of over-the-counter medicines, and question whether medicines such as paracetamol should only be accessed over the counter instead of through prescription to save the NHS money.”
Her efforts to publicise the issue even led to her appearing on BBC Breakfast.
“I was fortunate enough to be asked to appear to talk about some potential new migraine medication that is currently being developed. I offered my experiences with migraines and how crucial it is for money to be invested in this area.”