Tasmanians living with or affected by epilepsy will benefit from a world-first telephone-based peer support service launched in Hobart recently.
Research has shown that people with epilepsy endure family dysfunction, reduced social and leisure opportunities, increased levels of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
To help reduce these problems the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Rural Health in conjunction with Epilepsy Tasmania, and a Tasmanian Community Fund grant, now offer telephone-based peer support to every Tasmanian living with or affected by epilepsy.
Called Epilepsy Connect, the new service was established, developed and coordinated by Centre for Rural Health lecturer Dr Simone Lee and is managed by Epilepsy Tasmania.
“What began as a simple idea back in 2015 has become a world-first program to support the epilepsy community of Tasmania,” Dr Lee said.
“Interest in the program has been overwhelming and I’m very excited about what the future holds.
“I sincerely hope it makes a difference to the lives of all Tasmanians touched by epilepsy.”
Statistics estimate as many as one in 100 Australians have epilepsy, equating to around 5000 Tasmanians, with the actual number of people affected estimated to be four times this amount.
The new service is based on the successful and well established Australian model for people affected by cancer and is the first of its kind relating to epilepsy anywhere in the world.
“Peer support is known to be beneficial in reducing the psychosocial burden of epilepsy,” Epilepsy Tasmania’s Chief Executive Officer, Wendy Groot said.
“The face-to-face support groups we run in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie are a great opportunity for people to discuss issues and support each other in person, however until now people outside these centres have missed out.
“Epilepsy Connect will give every Tasmanian a chance to access peer support, no matter where they live.”
The phone number to reach Epilepsy Connect is 1300 852 853.
(Source: University of Tasmania)