Migraine in the workplace

Migraine: a workplace issue

Did you know that migraine is the most common and disabling neurological disorder in the UK. Affecting  1 in 7 people, it is more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined

There are 190,000 migraine attacks every day in the UK.

For the vast majority of people who live with migraine, their condition should not be a barrier to finding and retaining employment. However, from time to time it may have an unavoidable impact at work.

Helping your team

Some people experience attacks once or twice a year, whereas for others they may occur more regularly. The frequency and severity of attacks, as well as the symptoms
experienced can vary at different times and for different people. Encourage people to talk about their symptoms before they are having a migraine.  It will help them to take action earlier and recovery will be quicker.

Since migraine attacks typically last between 4 to 72 hours, people are more likely to take short-term sickness absence than to require longer term absence. Check your sickness policy and absence management procedure which should outline your
approach to managing sickness absence, in particular short-term absences, how
you will support your staff  and what to expect if they take absence.


Stress can have a detrimental effect on sleep, eating habits and general wellbeing which can all be potential trigger factors for migraine attacks.

Taking steps to tackle work-related stress……

Clear demands, clarity of role and objectives, regular supervision and support through change should all be adopted into management systems to effectively deal with stress in the workplace.

Familiarise yourself with your company’s policies on managing stress at work . The Health and Safety Executive also has a body of excellent information and resources on work-related stress, including the Management Standards for work-related stress

(http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/) which helps employers to support their

You may also want to take a look at The Migraine Advocacy Service  website and
information resources to help debunk any misconceptions or confusion about the condition. You can get a copy of the Migraine Trust’s leaflet, ‘Migraine: Help at Work’ here: https://www.migrainetrust.org/living-with-migraine/asking-for-support/help-at-work/

Also take a look at  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/

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About The Author

Sharon Critchlow

Sharon Critchlow is a Wellbeing Advocate, speaker and facilitator at Discover Your Bounce for Business. Passionate about people being the best they can be she is a Time To Change Champion for mental health and holds a Masters level qualification in strategic coaching for performance. Sharon is a qualified accountant and has 20 years experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. www.discoveryourbounce.com www.time-to-change.org.uk