Mind, the leading mental health charity in England and Wales, is debunking the Blue Monday myth – which purports that today is the “most depressing day of the year.” This misdirected affirmation is not empirically based. At most, Blue Monday is a potentially dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy cooked up by an airline PR office.
If that was not enough to make you frown, Blue Monday has been attached to one of the most iconic days for all humanity: the third Monday in January – Martin Luther King, Jr’s Birthday (observed), in honor of the Civil Rights Activist who was Nobel Laureate.
People need to know that there is in fact no scientific evidence to date that this day is the saddest day of the year. If anything, it would seem to be in the running for the most friendly day of the year as MLK DAY is a time when many people across the globe make a point to do some act of kind service for someone else, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life of service.
British rock band New Order released “Blue Monday” as a single in 1983. The song became a popular dance club anthem as the highest-selling 12″ single of all time.
In 2005, a now defunct British Sky Travel agency thought it would be a good PR hook to name a day on the calendar, “Blue Monday.” They issued a press release declaring that Blue Monday had come to life, citing a pseudo-mathematical formula developed by a Cardiff University psychologist, Dr. Cliff Arnall. It may have garnered clicks on the travel agency’s Website, but it is nothing to sing about.
The airline that launched Blue Monday was probably itself daunted (opinion) because of a dip in travel receipts on MLK Day, which has been observed since 1986. Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act in 1994, designating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service.
The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, an initiative launched by U.S. President Barack Obama, as a national call to service. It encourages people “from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”
According to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, “Participation in the MLK Day of Service has grown steadily over the past decade, with hundreds of thousands of Americans each year engaging in projects such as tutoring and mentoring children, painting schools and senior centers, delivering meals, building homes, and reflecting on Dr. King’s life and teachings. Many of the projects started on King Day continue to engage volunteers beyond the holiday and impact the community year-round.”
If traveling on MLK weekend, most Americans would likely arrange to be in transit either before or after, but not on MLK Day (opinion).
Arnall later promoted a similar formula for the “happiest day of the year” as part of a paid gig for an ice cream company’s marketing campaign. He was asked to identify the best day to book a summer holiday.
This manipulation of the collective emotional mind of the world’s population is a travesty, with mental ill health being the number one cause of disability today. This has to be taken seriously as some minds are highly susceptible to suggestion, especially those with a history of irrational thought.
A seemingly scientific article claiming a specific disorder can activate the hypochondriac tendency of paranoia. If a person with an unstable mind happens to feel a little down that day, he or she can be swayed to internalize media that tells him or her of a disease.
If a belief is an opinion, it has to be framed as such and not presented as research results. Further, research findings must be reviewed and carefully interpreted to prevent incorrect statements of cause and effect, correlation, or relationship of any kind.
Mind wants to re-mind people that “depression is a serious condition that can affect people on any day. Blue Monday is a PR gimmick, not an actual condition based on peer-reviewed research.
Birmingham Mind’s Chief Executive Helen Wadley said, “Blue Monday contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivializes an illness that can be life threatening… There are of course certain things that may make people feel down at this time of year, such as post-Christmas financial strains, broken New Year’s resolutions, bad weather and short daylight hours. However, depression is not just a one day event.”
Birmingham Mind is the largest independent mental health charity providing services in and beyond the City of Birmingham’s boundaries. It is affiliated with the Mind charity, which is available to help people throughout the year, “promoting wellbeing and recovery, providing high quality support and challenge the stigma of mental distress.”
To join the conversation on Twitter, use #BlueAnyDay @BirminghamMind.
Mind has a confidential information and support line, the Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday).