Together, we can
RAiISE Awareness of Invisible Illnesses in Schools & Education
What we do
What is an invisible illness?
Seeing is believing, right? For too long, society has associated illness with a physical disease or period of sickness. Yet, millions of people silently make it through another day while managing a multitude of symptoms that others are blissfully unaware of.
Although there is no universally agreed medical definition, an invisible illness is any health condition that is not easily visible to other people. These conditions, some of which are shown below, can affect physical or mental health, and are generally long-term or ‘chronic’ in nature, but some can be short-term or ‘acute’ in nature too. Invisible illnesses can affect anyone and everyone – including young people.
Unfortunately, because invisible illness symptoms cannot be seen by others, people living with these conditions are often subjected to discrimination and criticism because they look perfectly fine from the outside. This can be particularly challenging for young people, who face a multitude of pressures while developing their own identities.
Human beings instinctively desire to observe and measure phenomena – it is something we all do, often without thinking about it. From how old we are, to the date of our next holiday, and the amount of flour needed for that perfect cake recipe… we like to quantify things that we observe. The same principle applies in modern medicine – healthcare professionals use a variety of tools available to them, such as blood tests and scans, to diagnose and treat health conditions, but these may not fully ‘answer’ what is really going on for individuals with invisible illnesses, including those who have yet to receive a diagnosis.
As a result of stigma and a general lack of social awareness in society, people with invisible illnesses are often accused of being lazy, moody, and attention seekers, amongst a host of other hurtful, inaccurate claims. This can be compounded by the very nature of many invisible illnesses, the symptoms of which ebb and flow in severity over time, often without any consistency. Some people can go days, weeks, months, or years doing ‘well’ in terms of managing a busy life, but this can change without warning, and individuals may struggle to work, socialise, or simply function with day-to-day tasks. Some people may be constantly ill, without any relief of symptoms whatsoever. That is the very nature of invisible illnesses – no one person is the same, but every person’s experience is real and needs to be heard.
People with invisible illnesses are not asking for much – they just want to be heard, listened to, and supported… enabling them to live the best life they possibly can. This is the very reason why RAiISE exists – to stand up for young people living with invisible illnesses, so that every young person can live a life free from judgement and discrimination.