Building connections: a year-round pursuit
Today marks World MS day. Organised by the International Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Federation, it provides an important platform to share stories, raise awareness and campaign for everyone living with or affected by this condition.
This year, World MS Day continues its theme of ‘connections’. The observance may only last a day, but my team at Janssen are committed to building meaningful connections all year round – when I look back at World MS Day 2021 I am excited by how many new connections we’ve made in the past 12 months.
I have stayed connected with people living with MS during the COVID-19 pandemic through one of our local MS-specific social media channels, a great opportunity to get first hand insight into the reality of living with MS directly from people affected by it. The experiences shared through the channel reinforced my opinion that society’s understanding of MS and the challenges people living with MS face can be very limited and sometimes even incorrect.
This highlights just how important the theme of connections is and the amount of work we still must do to support those with MS. Work around expressing the burden of MS is particularly important – people living with MS often find it hard to express how MS makes them feel, especially when discussing invisible symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness and fatigue.1
The good news? We have been making significant progress in fostering meaningful connections between people living with MS and those around them. If you read my reflection on World MS Day last year you’ll know we launched ExpressMS in 2021, a campaign designed to support meaningful conversations and encourage an open dialogue around invisible MS symptoms. Our work doesn’t stop - we're still listening to and talking to the MS community, and we know that more must be done, so this year we’re making it even easier to build connections with the support of ExpressMS. The ExpressMS smartphone keyboard has been updated to support additional European languages, and to make the campaign as accessible as possible, we have also launched a new 'phrase generator' tool on our patient engagement portal, MoreToMS, which means the new phrases and expressions can be more easily integrated into daily interactions with family, friends and healthcare teams.
I’m proud of how my team and colleagues continue to deliver innovative solutions that have the potential to make a meaningful difference to the everyday lives of people living with MS. We know that Janssen alone does not hold the answer to breaking down barriers and building strong connections in the MS community, but hope that initiatives like ExpressMS are paving the way for other innovative solutions. I am excited for what we all can achieve as we continue to develop our connections over the next 12 months.
- Multiple Sclerosis Trust. Invisible symptoms: the unseen side of MS. Available at: https://mstrust.org.uk/news/views-and-comments/invisible-symptoms-unseen-side-ms Last accessed: May 2022