Is Blue Monday real?

Look across social media on the third Monday in January and you’ll probably see lots of posts about Blue Monday.

This year, it falls on January 15th, and it’s considered the most depressing day of the year.

But how and why did it get its name, and is there any truth in it?

Let’s take a look…

About 20 years ago, a pyschologist was asked to work out a formula to determine the saddest day.

But not by a healthcare organisation, medical students, or anyone in the mental health sector.

No, by a travel company. Because they figured it’d be a great day to encourage people to book a holiday!

The psychologist invented a formula which considered factors like weather, debt, post-holiday sadness and New Year’s Resolution failures.

He later distanced himself from it, potentially after seeing how much criticism the so-called PR stunt received.

So Blue Monday is nonsense?

Well, maybe not completely. There are some good points we can make!

People are likely to experience a dip in their mood in January. Everything from the weather – which often results in far less time outside – to the changes our body goes through like hormones and sleep habits altering can affect how we feel over the winter.

And up to 3% of the general population struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (rising to 20% for those with major depressive disorder and 25% of people with bipolar disorder).

Plus it’s always a good thing to get people talking about mental health and wellbeing, which Blue Monday absolutely does.

But a note of caution

Highlighting mental health one day of the year isn’t the best way to focus on the long-lasting impact diagnosable conditions have. One in four of us experience mental ill health – and even those who experience a dip in their wellbeing are sadly likely to do so for much longer than 24 hours.

Our work centres around mental health and learning disabilities, so it’s certainly something our teams are acutely aware of all year round. But we’d also like to encourage everyone to think about mental health, not just on Blue Monday but every day!