Photo of a young man looking out through a window

Stigma & bullying

Guide for schools

The impact 

Attitudes at school, and among family and friends, play an important part in any young person’s overall school experience and their wellbeing. Many young people with epilepsy say they have encountered nastiness because of their condition.  Stigma and bullying is common in epilepsy, often due to widespread misunderstanding about the condition.  This can lead to a young person with epilepsy having low self-esteem and not wanting to take part in learning and activities.  This, in turn, can have a devastating impact on their childhood, with many young people avoiding going places where they might be the victim of ill-treatment. 

Bullying is an additional stress to young people with epilepsy, and stress is a common trigger for seizures.  While many schools work hard to eliminate bullying, young people with epilepsy need to be recognised as being particularly vulnerable. 

Awareness raising 

Raising awareness of the basic facts about epilepsy will help to improve confidence, tolerance and inclusion, and help to dispel unhelpful myths.  Awareness raising should involve pupils and school staff and can be done in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Holding assemblies and lessons that address epilepsy 
  • Being alert to bullying 
  • Developing an ‘epilepsy-aware’ peer group 
  • Arranging epilepsy training for staff 

Schools need to ensure that awareness raising is handled sensitively and with the support of the young person and their parents.  Parents, charities and other outside agencies could contribute to these awareness-raising activities. 

Find out more here about Young Epilepsy’s epilepsy training and awareness courses for staff and resources for KS2 and KS3 


Also in this section of the guide


Not all young people with epilepsy have behavioural problems, but the chances are higher.

Emotional wellbeing

Living with an unpredictable, serious condition such as epilepsy can take an emotional toll on a young person.

Social wellbeing

Epilepsy can often lead to young people feeling left out, but there’s really no reason for them not to enjoy a full social life.

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

Other sections of the guide that may be of interest

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

UK legal frameworks

An overview of the different laws and systems in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

Key elements of support

The key elements of support that schools should have in place to ensure all young people with epilepsy are safe and included in school life

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

About seizures

Information about seizure types, triggers, first aid, treatments, records, and emergency medication for schools