Lovewell’s logic: Making the most of Blue Monday

A belated Happy New Year to you all!

By now, Christmas feels like a distant memory, as many of us settle back into the usual day-to-day routine. Despite all the promise that a new year often brings, January can prove a difficult month for many, thanks to factors such as the gloomy weather and post-Christmas financial pressures. The cost-of-living crisis means this is particularly pronounced this year, with many still struggling or unable to afford basic essentials, such as food, or to heat their homes.

Around this time of year we also start to hear a lot about Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, which this year falls on 16 January. Although the concept of Blue Monday stems from a PR exercise, rather than scientific evidence that this day sees mental health compromised more than at any other time, it does serve as a useful reminder of the need to look after our own mental wellbeing, as well as supporting others.

In the workplace, there is a huge amount employers can do. In some cases, signposting relevant benefits, regularly checking in with employees, bringing teams together informally and providing an open environment in which conversations can take place without judgement can be helpful, particularly if staff work remotely.

Of course, mental ill-health is not limited to specific times of year, but days such as Blue Monday can enable employers to approach sensitive issues in a generic way that is less likely to be perceived as targeted towards a workforce or specific individuals within it.

Ensuring employees feel comfortable speaking about their mental health and wellbeing in a work environment is still a significant challenge for many employers. Last week, we covered research by mental health app Wysa, which found just 13% of the employees surveyed felt comfortable enough to admit to their employer that they needed time off for mental ill-health. Indeed, a majority (83%) would rather speak to a mental health app than their organisation’s HR department.

Yet this is not due to a lack of effort on employers’ parts. Numerous pieces of research have shown the priority and focus numerous organisations place on supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing. For example, research published by WorkNest at the end of November last year found that 75% of respondents stated mental health and wellbeing would be the most important area in which to provide support to staff in 2023.

So, why not use Blue Monday to your advantage and check in with employees? It may help to provide food for thought to shape future strategies.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell