Belfast Telegraph

Blue Monday trivialises mental health problems, say charities

Mental health charities have slammed so-called "Blue Monday", branding the day as merely a "yearly PR event".

The third Monday of January, Blue Monday is supposedly the most depressing day of the calendar year.

It is often accompanied by advertising campaigns and sales, giving consumers deals to beat the January blues.

But mental health campaigners have said this belittles people who suffer from mental health problems.

Mind spokesman Stephen Buckley said: "Blue Monday contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivialises an illness that can be life threatening.

"There is no credible evidence to suggest that one day in particular can increase the risk of people feeling depressed."

The Mental Health Foundation called the day a "yearly PR event and primarily a device to promote and sell things, often tenuously linked, to improve our well-being".

They criticised "the idea that depression can somehow be calculated by formula".

Food chain Pizza Hut claims to have made a "mood-boosting pizza", while Gourmet Burger Kitchen will give away free lunches to the first 50 customers that visit each restaurant.

The Centre for Mental Health said the campaign could have positives.

Spokesman Andy Bell said: "Although Blue Monday can seem a little bit like it's belittling mental health problems to some people, I think it's also an opportunity to talk about what depression is... so that when someone is experiencing it, or a friend or relative or colleague is showing the signs of depression, we know what to do."

Nia Charpentier, from Rethink Mental Illness, said mental health problems will affect one in four people every year.

She said: "The media attention around Blue Monday certainly helps to raise awareness of depression and is an opportunity to encourage people to check in with a friend or relative who you think may be struggling with their mental health.

"However, it's important to keep in mind the bigger picture.

"Whilst aspects attributed to Blue Monday, such as financial worries, or changes in the weather may affect our mental well-being, mental health problems, including depression, can affect anyone, at any time of the year."

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