A young Harrogate woman who lost her hair at the age of 12 – and was told it would never grow back – is calling for more emotional and financial support for people with alopecia.
Emma Nelson, 23, has spoken out about the decline in her mental health in the years following her diagnosis with alopecia, and how she does not want others to experience the same level of turmoil.
So she has teamed up with Fixers, the charity that gives young people a voice, to make a short film to get her message across.
I want to fit in and be a normal person, not someone defined by alopecia. But the effect on my life of living with alopecia is huge. I feel that we’re pushed to the back of the shelf and forgotten about.
Emma explains that living with alopecia can come with a significant financial toll.
I’ve had to save up thousands of pounds over quite a short space of time in order to get the wig that I feel comfortable wearing.
With Fixers, Emma has created a short film highlighting the costs associated with buying, maintaining, and replacing wigs.
Following her diagnosis, Emma became depressed and suffered a lot of anxiety about her body image.
Looking back if I’d had someone to talk to, if I’d been signposted to a counsellor to offload onto about how I was feeling, I think that would have really helped me.
It’s really surprising that there’s no psychological support around the diagnosis.
The attitude from medical professionals seems to just be “it’s only hair loss, you can get on with it, hide it.
We’re just told basically to get on with our lives without hair.
Amy Johnson from Alopecia UK is supporting Emma’s campaign.
Many people with alopecia have anxiety issues. We have some people who get in touch with the charity who struggle to leave the house or who struggle going to work and it really can have a devastating impact.
Some doctors understand the psychological impact of hair loss, but for many they still just view alopecia as being a cosmetic thing.
Although it’s not life threatening, it is life changing, and so there definitely needs to be far more support given at that point of diagnosis.
I think it would be really exciting if this went further and that people started to listen to us and changes were made.
I don’t want people with alopecia to feel like they’ve been forgotten.
Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK by providing them with professional resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.
The charity has helped more than 19,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.
For more information or to make a donation to fund more Fixer projects, visit www.fixers.org.uk