Emma talks about what it was like growing up with alopecia
Amy Johnson from Alopecia UK
'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.'
After losing her hair when she was 12 - and being told it would never grow back - Emma Nelson is calling for more emotional and financial support for people with alopecia.
The 23-year-old from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, tells ITV about the decline in her mental health in the years following her diagnosis with alopecia.
Her story was broadcast on ITV News Calendar on Thursday July 14 and on ITV News Tyne Tees on Monday, July 18.
She says: ‘I became depressed and had quite a lot of anxiety about my 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.’
Emma explains that living with alopecia can also 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.
Amy Johnson from Alopecia UK is in support of Emma’s campaign.
She says: ‘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.'