Public lack confidence in supporting people with epilepsy – new poll shows




  • Almost two thirds of people (61%) with no direct experience of epilepsy are not confident of helping someone during a seizure
  • More than a quarter of people (26%) with a family member with epilepsy would not feel confident of looking after them during a seizure
  • Household names including actors Kerry Howard and Jennie Jacques and footballer Leon Legge, talk about their experiences of epilepsy

A new poll has revealed that there is a worrying lack of public confidence in knowing how to help someone who is having a seizure.

Published by YouGov in partnership with Epilepsy Society and Young Epilepsy, the poll of more than 2,000 people showed:

– Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of people with no experience of epilepsy would not feel confident in helping someone with epilepsy

– More than a quarter (26 per cent) of people with a family member with the condition would not feel confident in dealing with a seizure.

– Confidence increases with age: 29 per cent of UK adults aged 18-24 would feel confident of dealing with a seizure, but this figure rises to 50 per cent among 45-54 year olds.

The YouGov survey has been carried out as part of the charities’ Everyone Knows Someone campaign #explainepilepsy which aims to raise awareness of epilepsy across the UK during National Epilepsy Week (14-20 May 2017).

The campaign is being run in conjunction with high street fashion retailer River Island and is supported by household names from the world of entertainment and sport who spoke about their experiences of epilepsy at a special event to launch the campaign.

Actors Kerry Howard (BBC Three’s Him & Her, and sister of comedian Russell Howard) and Amazon Prime’s Vikings star Jennie Jacques both spoke about having a sibling with epilepsy; S Club Junior singer Stacey McClean spoke about her mum’s epilepsy; and footballer Leon Legge explained the importance of telling teammates about his epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in the UK, affecting 600,000 people. One in 100 people have epilepsy and 87 are diagnosed with it every day.

Chief executive at Young Epilepsy, Carol Long said: “Epilepsy is an incredibly complex condition and raising awareness is crucial. We are working with young people to empower them to talk about their condition and tackle the stigma that comes from a lack of understanding.

“This campaign helps us to recognise that everyone does know someone with epilepsy. The average Facebook user has 150 friends, with one in a hundred diagnosed with epilepsy they will know at least one person with the condition.”

Calling for greater public awareness of how to help someone who is having a seizure, Vikings star Jennie Jacques said: ‘It would be very much appreciated, not just by people who have epilepsy, but by their family members and friends, if you could just take a moment to know what to do if someone was to drop down and have a seizure, or have a seizure of any kind. It could be hugely beneficial, and could even save a life.”

Chief executive at Epilepsy Society Clare Pelham said: “The way we look out for those around us, and particularly those we do not know but merely pass in the crowd during the day, says a lot about who we are.

“We know that the fact that people do not feel confident in supporting someone during a seizure, does not mean they are not willing to do so. They just need to know how. That is where we as charities want to give them the knowledge and understanding to help.

“Our emergency services are already overstretched. If we can reduce the number of people with epilepsy going to A&E unnecessarily, it will save the NHS money and, where possible, people will be able to recover from their seizures at home, surrounded by friends and family.”

The survey results come as newly published hospital statistics show epilepsy is one of the top three conditions diagnosed as an emergency admission in the under 25s, even though many admissions could be avoided with better management and treatment in the community1.

You can hear Kerry, Jennie, Stacey, Leon and other young people talking about their experience of epilepsy at



To find out how to help someone during a seizure, go to:

For further information, please visit Follow Everyone Knows Someone on Twitter through @epilepsysociety and @youngepilepsy, or on Facebook on Epilepsy Society and Young Epilepsy’s pages.