What is Blue Monday, you ask? Depression is not a gimmick to hang profit on that is for sure - Joshua King

What if we could boil happiness down to an equation? End sadness with a tidy mathematical theorem?

We’ve split the atom, after all. We’ve been to the moon and back. Mark Zuckerberg’s even managed to give his Metaverse stick man legs.

Calculating when people will be sad should be easy, right? That was the nice idea when psychologist Cliff Arnall coined the ‘Blue Monday’ concept 17 years ago.

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Committed to helping people suffering with anxiety and depression, Arnall’s formula weighed everything from weather and Christmas to debt and new year to reveal (roughly) the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year.

Of course it’s nonsense. Arnall himself now campaigns against the very thing he concocted.

Blue Monday has been hijacked by companies marketing package holidays, soft drinks and even legal services. But mental health isn’t a gimmick, a hook to hang profit upon. At least, it shouldn’t be.

In Scotland, hundreds of people die by suicide every year. And thousands face depression, anxiety and other challenges to their mental wellbeing. That’s happening not just today but every day.

I was in a bad spot last year. I retreated from the people around me and was struggling to keep my head above water. It was not until I said it out loud that I realised just how serious it had become. So I spoke about it. I spoke to my doctor and to my family and friends.

The day dubbed 'Blue Monday' is upon us again - we should call it what it is, a mental health bogeyman hijacked to sell us the prospect of happiness.

It’s good to talk. Which is why the Samaritans are turning Blue Monday on its head. Their Brew Monday campaign is encouraging us all to reach out for a cuppa and catch up with those we care about.

I doubt January 16 will be the ‘most’ depressing day of this year. It certainly wasn’t for me in 2022.

This morning will be spent marking Blue Monday PR emails putting profit about wellbeing as spam. Then I’ll take my lead from Samaritans. I’ll stick the kettle on, have a coffee and thank the people who took care of me when I truly needed it most.

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Remember, it’s good to talk.

Josh King

Whatever you're going through, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 for free.