Today is Blue Monday: A reminder to check your loved ones' mental health
Today is the end of festive cheer, as all the charm of a new year has finally worn off. Today is Blue Monday - the most depressing day of the year.
Per The Sun, Blue Monday first came about on January 24 back in 2005, when Dr Cliff Arnall was asked to calculate the most depressing day of the year based on a number of different factors that can affect one's mood. The day usually falls on the third Monday in January, but can vary from year-to-year.
Arnall - a psychologist, Life coach, and happiness consultant - takes into account the weather, debt levels, the amount of time since Christmas, time since failing our New Year's resolutions, low motivational levels, and the feeling of a need to take charge of the situation.
But no matter what you think about Blue Monday, it is still a great excuse for raising the awareness of mental health issues and making sure loved ones are okay - as well as taking stock of your own mental wellbeing.
In a press release by the Movember Foundation charity - an organization that strives to raise awareness for men's health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's suicide - they urge everybody to use Blue Monday as an opportunity to make sure the people closest to them are okay.
"Monday 20th January, or Blue Monday, has long been dubbed the 'most depressing day of the year'.
"On ‘Blue Monday’, as with every other day of the year, Movember is encouraging you to look out for the signs a man in your life could be struggling with their mental health. [...]
"But Blue Monday acts as a stark reminder to check in with a mate and take stock of your own mental well-being.
"For those going through tough times, any day can be a struggle – and those feelings can be brought on by nothing in particular. [...]
"The signs can be subtle: a friend who’s not sleeping, a colleague who’s lost interest or simply a man in your family who’s more irritable than normal. But spotting these subtle indicators can make all the difference – in fact, it could be lifesaving.
"Movember’s eye-opening Spot The Signs video is designed to raise awareness of the signs someone may be struggling with their mental health. [...]
"The best way to look after a mate you think could be feeling low is to use the ALEC principle: Ask, Listen, Encourage Action, Check-in.
"It’s also important to look after your own mental health. [...]
"Something’s got to change. If you can’t seem to shift feeling “not so great”, or you’re feeling overwhelmed about life, take action.
"Speak to someone you trust, take part in some sort of exercise or enjoy some downtime with a friend. And if you’ve tried some of these things and still feel bad, talk to a professional for advice and support. [...]
"Check out Movember’s guide to spotting the signs: www.movember.com/signs"
One mental health charity that is not a fan of the date is Mind, who believe that the notion that one's mental health can be dictated by date is "dangerously misleading".
A statement on their official website reads:
"Here at Mind, we think it’s dangerously misleading. Those of us who live with depression know that those feelings aren’t dictated by the date. Implying that they are perpetuates the myth that depression is just 'feeling a bit down', something that doesn’t need to be taken seriously."
Stephen Buckley, Mind’s Head of Information, says: "Blue Monday contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivializes an illness that can be life-threatening."
No matter what you think about the press or origins surrounding "Blue Monday", it is no doubt a day where everybody should reflect on their own mental health and the wellbeing of those around them. Friends, family, coworkers - whoever - just check in and let them know you're there.
If you or anyone else you know is struggling with the issues mentioned in this article, then please know that there is help out there. If you need someone to listen, then consider contacting the following numbers:
The Samaritans (UK): 116 123
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
The Silver Line: 0800 470 8090
Switchboard, the LGBT+ Helpline: 0300 330 0630