Blue Monday- debunked

So, you may or may not have heard of Blue Monday. This is the name given to a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) which is said to be the most depressing day of the year. 

The concept was first published in a 2005 press release from the company, which claimed to have calculated the date using an “equation”.

It takes into account weather conditions and thus only applies to the Northern Hemisphere.

I could write more on this- such as they actually tried to pay academics to put their name to this made up concept. 

The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.

The 2005 press release used this formula:

W=weather, d=debt, D=monthly salary, T=time since Christmas, Q=time since failing our new year’s resolutions, M=low motivational levels, and Na=the feeling of a need to take action. Again, no units were defined; the lack of any explanation for what is meant by “weather” and “low motivational levels” means the dimensional homogeneity of the resulting “formula” cannot be assessed or verified, rendering it even more meaningless than its predecessor.

So….the good news is that today is not the year’s most depressing day. It’s a myth, with its genesis in advertisement, that the media and culture have propagated. There’s absolutely no evidence for it. 

The use of Blue Monday as a term now can seem like a trivial issue-a fun news story even to make a boring Monday brighter. But, here is some information we should consider-

1. Information about mental health should be evidence based. 

This is where news reports and promotions about mental wellbeing should concentrate, not on generating misconceptions that don’t benefit anybody. Knowing why mental health issues occur, and what we can do about them, systemic conditions such as poverty, trauma and chronic stress are linked with poor mental health.

2. Depression should not be trivialised in a silly unfounded news story. 

Depression should not be minimalised, it is a serious and debilitating condition that needs to be taken seriously. Myth making about mental health information fuels, instead of challenging, the stigma and misconceptions that exist around it. It propagates, instead of reducing, stigma.
3. Treatment should also be evidence based

There’s a lot of bad information not backed up by evidence out there. At it’s best it does no harm, but at it’s worst it can be unhelpful and even damaging and dangerous. When treatment is not based on evidence it may be harmful. When misinformation is given as fact it can lead to beliefs that influence our behaviours, sometimes in a detrimental way.

I for one think we shouldn’t trivialise propagation of myths not backed by evidence. There is a lot of noise and nonsense about mental health out there so if you feel dubious or unsure please don’t be scared to ask. 

Questions you can ask-

What evidence there is for the treatment you have been given. What is the information you’ve given based on. 

Any good health professional operates as a scientist-practitioner and should welcome questions and be able to give you an answer, or at least find out from the evidence. You can always question the source or rationale behind mental health information or advice. 

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