Call our Helpline: 0808 808 1000

Brain Awareness Week 2020

This week is Brain Awareness Week and we are raising awareness about hidden disabilities and how all of us can make a difference to the lives of people affected by neurological problems.

What is a hidden disability?

A hidden disability is one that affects someone in ways others can’t see or easily identify, or means society has less obvious disabling barriers that can get in the way of them living a full life.

The Invisible Disabilities Association (US) have suggested that 74% of those with disabilities don’t use a wheelchair or anything else that might visually signal their impairment to the outside world.

1 in 6 people in the UK are affected by a neurological problem, which means it is very likely that somebody close to you has a neurological condition or problem. You might know some of the ways it affects them, but a neurological problem may often result in a disability that could be hidden or invisible to others.

With over 470 known neurological conditions, there will be those that you may have heard of such as Parkinson’s and dementia but many that you haven’t such as Chiari malformation and transverse myelitis. Many of these conditions can have a huge impact on day to day life.

Why are we celebrating Brain Awareness Week?

Every March, Brain Awareness Week unites organisations from around the world to help people learn and understand more about our brain, and the progress and benefits of research. This includes awareness of neurological problems, their impact and the support and care that some people need.

This year’s Brain Awareness Week is taking place from 16th March to 22nd March.

We are asking everyone to get involved and to help us raise awareness about hidden disabilities by sharing our messages with their family and friends.

Join us on Twitter and Facebook, where we will be talking more about how we make a difference, alongside celebrating the work of other fantastic charities and organisations who are changing lives through their research.

We will also be asking people to share with us their own personal experiences of living with a neurological problem and their tips for managing hidden disabilities.

How you can make a difference

This week we need your help to raise awareness of hidden disabilities and the 1 in 6 people in the UK who affected by a neurological problem.

You can get involved in a number of ways:

  • Join us on Twitter and Facebook and share our messages with your friends, family and followers
  • Tell us your story - you can email us, call us, or message us through social media. Find out how to get in touch here.
  • Share a photo of yourself holding one of our Brain Awareness Week posters to help raise awareness. Get your poster here.

Your support will help make hidden disabilities more visible and change the lives of people affected by neurological problems.



You can talk to us

Do you need support with a hidden disability? The Brain & Spine Foundation Helpline offers information and support for anyone affected by a neurological problems.

0808 808 1000

Holly's story - 'Remember that disabilities are not always visible'

"As I sit and write this in a coffee shop in the middle of Glasgow I would probably place at the bottom of a list if I asked someone to rank the likelihood of who was disabled in the café.

I do not look disabled, I do not sound disabled, I’m a final year student at Glasgow University and I spent last year studying abroad in Oklahoma."

Holly was diagnosed at the age of 19 with a Chiari malformation. She has had to learn to manage symptoms such as neck pain, numbness in her hands, headaches, and stiffness.

Read Holly's story to hear in her own words how she feels about living with a hidden disability, and why raising awareness in others is so important to her.

Click to read more of Holly's story


Learn more about hidden disabilities

Hidden disabilities, work and wellbeing

Hidden disabilities, work and wellbeing

View the presentation given by our CEO, Marc Smith, when he joined the Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund at the Health and Wellbeing at Work exhibition earlier this month to talk about hidden disabilities in the workplace.

What we do

At the Brain & Spine Foundation we understand how important it is for people affected by a neurological problem to know they are not alone. Our services are there for people at every stage, from first symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and in the long term. We are also here to support family, carers and friends.

"I am so pleased that I called you. I had a chance to speak to a human being, not to a computer. You do understand how I feel and you made me feel better by explaining my conditions and discussing my worries. I have a big smile on my face now. Thank you." - Feedback from one of our callers

Through our services, we aim to provide information, answer questions, reduce anxiety and to inform choices. Our helpline team has specialist knowledge of a range of neurological conditions and can take the time to listen to what people need.

The charity is entirely funded by voluntary donations from our supporters; we receive no government funding. If you would like to find out more about how you can help us continue this important work, visit out our Get involved page.

How we help



The Brain & Spine Foundation Helpline offers information and support for people affected by neurological problems.

Our publications

Our publications

The Brain & Spine Foundation provide over 25 informative booklets and fact sheets on different conditions, procedures and symptoms.

Online support groups

Online support groups

Our online communities are a great way for people affected by neurological problems to interact, share their experiences and provide mutual support