Blue Monday... Tuesday, Wednesday...
That’s right it’s one of the times each year, when the mainstream media cares about mental health for a day.
The ‘media’ and ‘Researchers’ provide this coverage because it’s ‘Blue Monday’.
‘Blue Monday’ is a name given to the third Monday of January, claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept was first publicised as part of a 2005 press release from a holiday company, which claimed to have calculated the date using an equation. Taking into account weather conditions, pay dates, sunlight and the ‘Christmas Hangover’.
The themed day, promoted by many well meaning (and some not so well meaning) individuals and businesses is, in my opinion, doing more harm than good. The idea of ‘Blue Monday’ downplays the seriousness, the complexity and long term affects many experience with depression.
I feel this quote from the National Mind website sums it up quite well. “Blue Monday contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivialises an illness that can be life threatening. 1 in 6 people will experience depression during their life. It can be extremely debilitating with common symptoms including inability to sleep, seeing no point in the future, feeling disconnected from other people and experiencing suicidal thoughts.”
If you connect with a story or message this week, that’s great. I am sure (hopefully) there is someone that is helped by ‘Blue Monday’. However, I believe we could be helping many more people by doing a few small things to change the way we talk, think and interact with mental health everyday. Which is important because we all have mental health and, unsurprisingly, those struggling with mental health illnesses and symptoms are doing so more than one day a year.
So, here’s a few small things we can all do:
- Be honest. We don’t always know what to say or how to say it. That’s ok, try to provide an open non judgemental environment for your friends (and yourself) to talk in. That’s enough!
- Realise you don’t have to be an expert to talk about or listen to someone talking mental health.
- Find our more. Read an article, listen to a podcast, watch a TedTalk. There’s lots of ways to raise your own awareness and knowledge. - Respect that we all have different life experience and so will likely react, understand, expect, relate and be affected by things differently. - Know there is a range of support of people struggling. From crisis centres, care units and peer support to personal development and self care. - Talk and listen.
Depression, and other mental health illnesses, can have huge impacts on people’s lives. Personally, I feel ‘Blue Monday’ more than misses the mark. Again personally, I feel ‘Blue Monday’ can be dangerous, lead to misinformation, reinforces unhelpful stereotypes and incorrect assumptions that are often make about mental health illnesses and those affected by them.
That said, if Monday comes and you see someone talking about mental health, illnesses, support, symptoms and or personal experiences and that leads to you feeling like you can access support or information. If that leads to you feeling less alone, more accepted, recognised and like support is accessible; and you are worthy of it. Then damm, it’s doing something good!
We all process and interpret things differently. If ‘Blue Monday’ works/ helps you that’s ace. But for me, its a no. I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s helpful and I think it likely hurts more people than it helps. But that’s my opinion. I wonder what yours is...