Blue Monday: Real or PR stunt?

Is the third Monday in January really the most depressing day of the year? New research has found that Blue Monday may be a PR stunt.

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Written by: Alcumus
20th January

The third Monday of January has been given the title of “Blue Monday”. This gloomy name was given to the day due to the combination of post-Christmas blues, cold dark nights and failure to maintain new year’s resolutions.

However, in recent years it’s come to light that Blue Monday isn’t really the most depressing day of the year, but a PR stunt.

Origin of Blue Monday

It’s reported that Sky Travel originally asked psychologist Cliff Arnall to find the best day to book a holiday in 2004. After looking at the motives he found many factors lead to the third Monday in January as being particularly depressing, coining it “Blue Monday”. He has since urged Brits to “refute the whole notion” of Blue Monday.

The day may still be used as a PR stunt by many companies, however employers should be aware of how seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can leave people feeling depressed during the winter, not just on “Blue Monday”.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a type of depression associated with the change in seasons linked to the lack of light, making it most common in Autumn and Winter.

According to mental health charity Mind, some symptoms of SAD include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Not wanting to see people
  • Sleep problems, such as sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty waking up, or difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless
  • Changes in your appetite, for example feeling more hungry or wanting more snacks
  • Being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses
  • Losing interest in sex or physical contact
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Other symptoms of depression

How to support your employees experiencing SAD

Employers can support their employees who are experiencing SAD, as they would any other mental health issues by:

  • Creating a culture of openness surrounding mental health
  • Initiate a conversation with employees showing signs of mental health
  • Consider reasonable adjustments
  • Carry out return to work meetings following sickness

How Alcumus can help

As an employer, there is only so much that you can do to help employees who are suffering from mental health issues. While it’s fundamental that you work towards removing mental health stigma from the workplace and support the mental health and wellbeing of employees, ultimately these issues need to be handled with the support of HR Professionals.

Find out more about how Alcumus PSM, HR and H&S specialists, can help you promote wellbeing in the workplace, please contact a member of our specialist team on 01484 439930 or email [email protected].