Migraine and Headache Awareness Month: June 2021
By Scott FontanaLast Updated: April 21, 2021
Still, as the World Health Organization (WHO) points out, headache disorders are some of “the most common disorders of the nervous system.” The WHO says that 1 in 7 adults worldwide has migraine, and that it can be 3 times more common in women than men.
To raise awareness and lower the stigma associated with migraine disease and headache disorders, the Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients (CHAMP) is back with its annual National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month (MHAM) in June. MHAM, which started as a weeklong observance in 2012, is full of awareness days and events, although many will have a different feel this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make large gatherings and close physical contact off-limits.
Purple is the color of MHAM; this association originated during a 2004 awareness campaign, and it was designated the official color for MHAM in 2012.
Migraine and Headache Awareness Days and Weeks
Throughout the awareness month are several days dedicated to shining a brighter spotlight on particular aspects of migraine and headache disease.
Migraine at Work Is June 1
Those who wish to show support for people living with migraine or raise awareness of the disease are asked to wear purple to work in June — whether you’re working from home or at an office. To help put a face to the movement, the National Headache Foundation is encouraging people to take a selfie and share it on the organization’s website. Learn more about the observance here.
Veterans With Headache Diseases Is June 6
CHAMP has tied this awareness day to the 76th anniversary of D-Day. According to MHAM, veterans are more likely to develop migraine and headache diseases, per the Department of Veterans Affairs, and some researchers believe this directly results from their military service.
Remembrance Day Is June 7
Remembrance Day honors Melissa Dwyer, who died by suicide at age 22 on this day in 2013, as well as others whose headache, migraine, and cluster diseases have also led to tragedy.
Headache Diseases and Men Is June 20
According to MHAM, 6 to 8 percent of men live with migraine. This day, which coincides with Father’s Day, serves as a reminder that headache is gender blind.
Shades for Migraine Is June 21
Started by the Association of Migraine Disorders, the organization supplies purple sunglasses so others can stand united with those who live with migraine. In past years, the association has conducted an initiative called Taking It to the Streets, which spreads awareness at popular locations such as Times Square in New York City. The ongoing pandemic has scuttled such events, but the message of Shades for Migraine can still be spread by social media using the hashtag #ShadesForMigraine.
Chronic Migraine Awareness Day Is June 29
Community Walks and Runs in Support of Migraine and Headache
Miles for Migraine
Miles for Migraine, a nonprofit based in South Burlington, Vermont, has been holding runs to raise awareness and help find a cure for migraine disease and headache disorders since 2008. The organization sponsors races throughout the year in cities across the United States.
Since March 21, 2020, most runs have been modified as virtual events in which participants can run, walk, climb stairs, or use a treadmill to raise funds. The organization encourages participants to submit photos and stories to feature on social media and in its newsletter. Registrants will receive an event shirt and finisher medal by mail, according to Miles for Migraine. Visit the events page for a full 2021 calendar.
Walk, Run, or Just Relax for Headache on the Hill
Several migraine advocacy groups are holding a virtual fundraiser June 2 through 10 for the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy (AHDA)’s annual Headache on the Hill (HOH) event. The ADHA advocates for more equitable federal policies toward Americans with disabling headache disorders.
Registration is required for Walk, Run, or Just Relax, and participants are asked to reach out to friends and family for donations, publicize the event on social media, and tag their federal, state, and local representatives in social media posts. During the week of the event, participants are encouraged to post pictures on social media of themselves walking, running, or doing the activity of their choice, and to use the hashtag #HOHVirtualWalkRunRelax.
Clusterbusters Annual #CureForCluster 5K
Clusterbusters’ annual 5K takes place during Father’s Day weekend. This year’s virtual event is June 19. Clusterbusters, which aims to improve the lives of those with cluster headaches, asks participants share photos on social media using the #CureForCluster hashtag.
Conferences and Meetings on Migraine and Headache
Conferences and meetings on migraine and headache take place every year. Some are aimed primarily at professionals, while others are aimed at people living with migraine disease or headache disorders.
Migraine World Summit
The sixth annual Migraine World Summit will take place March 17 through March 25. This virtual event features dozens of speakers with expertise on migraine; four interviews will be released daily. Each year, the summit is broadcast online for free, and you can register to access the schedule of talks. Topics for 2021 include racial inequities in migraine treatment, how weight affects migraine disease, and managing migraine with little to no insurance.
American Headache Society Annual Scientific Meeting
Focusing on advances in headache sciences, the American Headache Society meets each year to spread the word about what’s in the works to help those with headache disease lead more comfortable lives. The 2021 event will take place as a virtual meeting from June 3 to 6.
Diamond Headache Clinic’s Headache Update
Scheduled for July 15 through 18 at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa outside Orlando, Headache Update 2021 from the Diamond Headache Clinic is set to proceed as an in-person event. Organizers are in the process of planning the setup and agenda. Typically a four-day program, Headache Update hosts about 25 doctors who specialize in all areas of headache medicine, providing lectures with updates on treatment and diagnosis for a growing number of annual attendees.
RetreatMigraine brings together people living with migraine and migraine experts alike, for an interactive, multiday event combining patient education, advocacy training, and complementary therapy experiences. Sponsored by CHAMP, this conference and retreat is scheduled to take place at the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach in California from October 15 through 17.
Volunteering and Partnering Opportunities
The Association of Migraine Disorders and the Shades for Migraine campaign have attracted many who wish to volunteer, to the point that not all requests could be met. As a result, a volunteer registry was established. By signing up, prospective volunteers enter a database that’s shared with the 40-plus Shades for Migraine partners.
How to Spread Awareness About Migraine and Headache
Getting the word out on headache disease is more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there remain plenty of ways to get involved, from social media to opportunities involving more time and effort
For those who want to be part of change at the federal level, one group is among the leaders: the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy (AHDA). According to its website, the AHDA “advocates for equitable policies for people with headache disorders.” It spearheads Headache on the Hill in Washington, DC. The 14th annual event took place March 23. The group’s website outlines the many initiatives currently underway. The AHDA encourages those who wish to lend support to donate, follow it on Facebook and Twitter, and download a flyer to distribute.
Participate in Fundraising
Take part in the Association of Migraine Disorders’ Research Is Hope campaign to raise $200,000 for migraine research. You can help by donating money yourself, by starting a Facebook fundraiser and encouraging your friends to donate, or by sharing messages and images (samples are available on the campaign’s webpage) on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. For social media posts, be sure to tag @migrainedisorders and use the hashtag #ResearchIsHope.
Share Your Story and Tips About Living With Migraine and Headache
If this awareness month is about anything, it’s letting people know they are not alone. Those who live with headache disease come from all walks of life, such as Emmy-nominated comedian and producer Whitney Cummings, who spoke at last year’s Migraine World Summit Onstage event. Everyday Health talked to the Two Broke Girls cocreator about her own struggles with chronic migraine.
Obviously, most people with headache disease and migraine aren’t famous. But platforms to share struggles and strategies are out there for everyone. Migraine Again, which joined the Everyday Health family last year, offers a collection of stories by and about people affected by headache disease. Those interested in contributing their personal story can submit here.
The Migraine Diva, from blogger and advocate Jaime Sanders, is recognized as one of the top headache and migraine blogs. Sanders walks readers through her own struggles with chronic migraine and more.
CHAMP has collected a sizable list of online communities to join. The list includes both CHAMP and non-CHAMP member communities. Click here to check it out.
Get Involved in Research Studies and Clinical Trials for Migraine and Headache
If scientists are to improve the lives of those who live with migraine, they need volunteers with the condition for clinical trials. ClinicalTrials.gov offers a searchable database of ongoing and completed clinical trials, including roughly 1,000 that come up from the search term “migraine.”
Here are a few ongoing trials currently recruiting.
Telehealth Behavioral Migraine Management
Conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, this study seeks to “develop the protocol and obtain feasibility and acceptability information for Telehealth Behavioral Migraine Management.” Participants will undergo a 12-week protocol that includes an app-based headache diary, an online patient manual, and four 50-minute telehealth sessions.
Dexamethasone for Migraine-Dose Comparison
Montefiore Medical Center in New York City is conducting this study to compare the effects of different dosages of the steroid dexamethasone on acute migraine.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Stress Reduction Training for Migraine
Sponsored by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the study “will evaluate a combination [of] transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation and stress reduction training for migraine.”
Sharing Resources to Help People With Migraine and Headache
CHAMP offers a collection of financial assistance guides for those who need help paying for certain treatments. These guides provide information about manufacturers’ copay programs, but be sure to take note of the following disclaimer also posted on the main guides page: “Please note: These guides have not been produced or approved by the manufacturers. CHAMP is not endorsing the use of any treatment over another, nor promoting the use of any medications or devices for everyone with migraine or cluster disease. Every patient needs to consult their healthcare provider to determine what treatment options are right for you.”
Other Ways to Take Action on Migraine and Headache
There’s an App for That
Plenty of useful apps exist for iOS and Android to help you better manage headache and migraine disease, including Migraine Buddy, Migraine Monitor, N1-Headache, and Migraine Trainer from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Some apps are entirely free, while others include in-app purchases.
Additional reporting by Laura McArdle.