Unless you’re really into New Order, you probably don’t care that much about the term Blue Monday. If you’ve had the radio on today, you might be aware that today is the titular Blue Monday. That means it’s apparently the “most depressing” day of the year; the day when you’re supposed to be at your absolute most miserable. How did we reach this conclusion, and is it even a conclusion at all?
What is Blue Monday?
Using a series of powerfully intelligent calculations, a crack team of mathematicians, scientists of no discernable specialisation, calendar enthusiasts, and marketing professionals, the most depressing day of the year can be discovered using one of the following formulae:
As you can see, these formulae are extremely scientific and definitely not total nonsense. The scientifically minded amongst you may notice that it fails to comply with the principle of dimensional homogeneity, which is a very fancy way of saying “you can’t compare apples to oranges.” How do you divide low motivation by weather? What unit of measurement do you even use for weather? We should probably ask Dr Cliff Arnall, a psychologist who at the time claimed to be associated with Cardiff University (who have now distanced themselves from both Arnall and his claim), and coined the date and formula which determines Blue Monday. Dr Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science and fighter of pseudoscience, noted that the original press release which determined all of this came pre-written to a number of academics, who were asked to add their name to it in order to provide it with authenticity. That’s a great sign that Blue Monday is definitely Proper Actual Science, Done By Scientists, In a Science Lab.
What’s the science behind Blue Monday
There isn’t any. It was, functionally speaking, a marketing exercise from Sky Travel, who were trying to sell holidays in January when everyone is too skint to go away for two weeks. It’s all rubbish. There are a few studies that link Mondays to an increase in suicidal feelings and other mental health issues, but they exist independently of the concept of Blue Monday.
What’s the point in Blue Monday, then?
There, again, isn’t one. Ben Goldacre used the term “churnalism” to describe it; a story that’s really quick and easy to put out once a year to get clicks and views. If we’re being honest, even this article we’ve put up contributes to that, despite us trying to combat the pseudoscience of it all.
The thing is, the constant pushing of Blue Monday as “the most depressing day of the year” undermines the experiences people who are actually mentally ill; especially those who live with seasonal affective disorder, which is a legitimate issue reflective of seasonally-occurring mental illness. By perpetuating the notion of Blue Monday, we perpetuate bad science, and as a result, we fail to truly understand what depression and mental illness actually encompass. People aren’t depressed because they’ve not spent enough time on cultural activities or failing their New Year’s resolutions; that’s a gross simplification of what mental illness is.
If it makes you feel better, Sky Travel was closed down in 2010 as it was struggling to compete in the market. Tragic.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are always places you can turn to for help. If you’re looking for someone to talk to, you can chat to Samaritans, SANEline, or many others which may be specific to your situation. There are loads of mental health charities, like Mind, Papyrus, Rethink, and MindOut who have resources that can help. If you’re able, it’s always a good idea to visit your GP, who you can talk to about any issues you might be facing – they can then help put you on a path to becoming mentally healthy. Please don’t struggle alone.
Read more: Taking Control on World Mental Health Day