Lyndsay Buckland: Not the best time to raise awareness

If YOU were going to pick a week to run an awareness campaign for a particular health issue or illness, this one would probably not have been top of your list out of the 52 available, particularly in Scotland.

This week there has been even less room to help spread the messages of groups hoping to get some attention for their causes

With the independence referendum dominating the news agenda, there has been even less room than usual to help spread the messages of charities and groups hoping to get some attention for their respective causes.

This week has seen several groups vying for what little space is left amid a sea of politics.

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So in case you missed it, we’ve just been marking Sexual Health Week, run by the Family Planning Association, which includes a focus on emergency contraception.

Then there’s National Eczema Week, with the aim of raising awareness of the help available to the one in five children and one in 12 adults in the UK affected by the skin condition.

And also spare a thought for Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week, with the hope of increasing knowledge about the signs and symptoms of this most common type of blood cancer.

Their best hope of getting in the paper would probably have been some kind of referendum-related hook. For example, “Better together – you and a condom”, or “Vote Yes for no more eczema under independence”.

I’m never too sure about the worth of awareness days, weeks or months in promoting a particular health cause.

Often they are put forward by campaign groups demanding coverage without much thought about how their subject might be made interesting in attempts to make the public more receptive to the message. The approach is often “here’s our awareness week, just write about it”.

And isn’t it important that we’re working to raise awareness of these issues whatever day of the year it is, rather than focusing efforts on a particular week? By putting all the attention on a seven-day period are we diminishing the work being done by charities the rest of the year?

That said, if just one person reads a story, picks up a leaflet or sees a TV report about the symptoms of a deadly disease which means they see a doctor and are diagnosed early, surely that is worth the effort?

And the charities behind the likes of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and “Movember” for men’s health have also highlighted the fundraising powers of such events.

So, as their weeks in the slightly dimmed spotlight draw to a close, spare a moment to think about the likes of eczema, lymphatic cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. But maybe not all at the same time and risk awareness week overload, which in itself might require its own awareness week.