Blue Monday: beyond the bull

Ever came across this mind-blowing formula?

It was created by psychologist, Cliff Arnall back in 2005 to represent the well-known term ‘Blue Monday’ AKA the most depressing day of the year, which allegedly occurs on the third Monday of January…

Fake news!

Oh how we wish feeling blue was something that happened on one specific day, or even one month for that matter! The harsh reality is, Blue Monday is a load of rubbish (as reiterated by the BBC) - people are feeling this way every single day of the year, now more than ever with ONS figures revealing that the rate of depression in Great Britain has almost doubled during the pandemic.

There’s no denying that January can be tougher than some months – we’re with Arnall on that one. The weather’s rubbish, the Christmas festivities are over, the debts are mounting up and don’t get us started on those New Year’s resolutions!

But, we’re asking employers, have you considered how your people feel at all stages of the year?

So many assume, so little know

While it’s super annoying that businesses use ill mental health as a money-making PR tool to sell their products and services, we kind of have to thank the Blue Monday concept for shining a much-needed light on depression.

So many employees still don’t reveal when they’re suffering from a mental health problem, such as depression. In fact, a recent survey from Workplace Intelligence and Oracle found that 68% of workers around the globe would prefer to talk to a robot about their mental health over their manager.

But why is it that employees don’t open up to their managers when suffering from depression or other mental health related illnesses?


Are your people putting on a brave face?

Let’s be honest, talking can be terrifying. According to the Mental Health Foundation fear of discrimination and feelings of shame are among the top reasons people don’t tell colleagues about their mental health problems. Other reasons as reported by People Management include being too embarrassed and thinking that their employer won’t be able to help.

With this being the case, it’s down to business leaders to create a workplace culture where staff can totally be themselves, speak about their mental health concerns without fear of jeopardising their career and know exactly where to find help when they need it.

The key to helping your staff beat the blues

So how can organisations support employee mental health on Blue Monday and beyond? Here’s our top tips, and what better way to remember them than a good old acronym ;)

Balance

A work-life balance has become increasingly harder to achieve with the majority of organisations now working in a remote environment and with that, working well outside their hours. Managers should lead by example on this one and encourage down time.

Learn

Get clued up. By undergoing training to gain a better understanding of mental health conditions, you’ll be more informed, know how to spot when employees are feeling blue and become more confident in helping them get the support that they need.

Understand

Understand how work can have a negative impact on an employee's mental health and make sure you’re not contributing to that with the likes of setting unrealistic deadlines, unmanageable workloads and placing staff under unnecessary pressure.

Engage

Managers should make the conscious effort to engage in regular meaningful conversations with their people to find out how they are. This will help to create a workplace culture that’s open, inclusive and feels safe for employees to open up.

Show your support

We’re talking daily. Managers should make sure their team’s everyday working culture is as mentally healthy as possible – a good way to do this is by providing wellbeing tools and resources that are accessible 24/7.


All in all, while the Blue Monday concept may be total and utter nonsense, it can be used as a way to kick-start workplace wellbeing conversations and initiatives that will support your people all year round.

Get in touch to find out how Key Wellbeing can help you create a mentally healthy workplace that’s permanent


Melissa Armstrong and Marie Ranson,
Co-founders of Key Wellbeing Ltd.

Proudly from Teesside in the North East of England, Melissa and Marie have 15 years of wellbeing experience.

We’ve both seen and personally experienced the impact that mental ill-health can have on our families and the wider community and for that reason, we are both super passionate about helping people to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, especially at work.