On May 30, MS Australia will join the international multiple sclerosis (MS) community in raising awareness of MS and its impacts globally, through World MS Day promotion and events around Australia. Led by the MS International Federation, MS Australia and MS organisations around the world will together mark World MS Day 2021, by continuing the three-year theme of 'Connections'. The 'MS Connections' campaign's timely focus is on overcoming social isolation and loneliness, which this year in Australia, will spotlight connecting with family and friends.
"This important collaboration draws attention to how individuals and families affected by MS are coping and adapting to the challenges of living with MS during the COVID-19 pandemic. MS Australia is contributing to this significant international exploration of relationships, connections and the impacts of social isolation and loneliness at such a crucial time," says Rohan Greenland, Chief Executive Officer of MS Australia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives across the globe, with periods of lockdown, unemployment, and separation from family and friends as some of the biggest hurdles. For people with MS, social isolation and loneliness are common, and there is a shared feeling of disconnection. MS can be a lonely disease; friendships, family and community relationships can fall away or even dissolve, leaving detrimental impacts on health and quality of life.
President of MS Australia, Associate Professor Desmond Graham, says, "Part of the important work of MS Australia is to understand the social barriers and how members of the MS community experience loneliness and social isolation, so we can adjust our advocacy efforts to ensure support, resources and quality care services combat these feelings and meet the needs of the community we serve."
In the lead up and on World MS Day 2021, MS Australia will launch several resources and experiences for the MS community, aimed at supporting people to connect or reconnect with family and friends, and for some, to establish new friendships.
Andrew Potter, National Advocacy Coordinator for MS Australia, has lived with MS for over 30 years and says, "MS Australia has a long history of responding to the needs of our MS community. We are inviting all Australians to stand shoulder to shoulder with those affected by this disease. Reach out to someone you know living with MS. Tell those you love that you are there for them. Invite them out for a coffee and check in on how they are going."