With Brexit, the looming Trump presidency, and the deaths of well-loved celebrities such as Carrie Fisher and George Michael, “Blue Monday” this year in the United Kingdom has been predicted to be the bluest of all.
But what’s Blue Monday anyway and how has it ended up being expected to be the most depressing day of the year in the country?
Behind The Blue
Here’s a little peek at its history. Back in 2005, Welsh psychologist Cliff Arnall, then from Cardiff University, produced a formula that assigned the third Monday of January as the gloomiest day of the year.
It was then christened “Blue Monday,” and it became an actual thing in the UK.
Never mind that travel firm Sky Travel actually hired Arnall to come up with the formula, with the goal of selling its travel packages for the summer. The retail segment has even co-opted this stunt, The Canary stated.
Arnall has not shied away from making more predictions, proclaiming, according to the British press, that Blue Monday in 2017 could be the bluest of all with events such as the British exit from the European Union and celebrity deaths that might as well remind people of their own mortality.
Not Really The Most Depressing Day Of The Year
Experts are quick to view the Blue Monday formula with skepticism and even outright scorn.
"Blue Monday — a calculation based on factors such as weather conditions, debt levels, time since Christmas and time since failing our new year's resolutions — was created in 2005 to sell summer holidays," wrote Mental Health Foundation director Isabella Goldie in a blog post, dubbing it an annual PR event and asserting that the science it operates on has already been debunked.
#BlueMonday trended last Monday, with most posts considered ad-driven and revolved around beauty products, cookies, and vacations.
It is worth noting, however, that people’s moods have been proven to vary based on the season, such as the occurrence of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, during winter and when there is severe lack of sunlight.
SAD is a mood disorder marked by depression, mood swings, anxiety, lethargy, sleep problems, overeating, and sexual and social problems, among other symptoms. Three out of four who suffer from the disorder are women, and those between 18 to 30 years old are deemed most vulnerable to SAD.
Mental health charity Mind slam the idea of Blue Monday as something that trivializes depression.
“[It] contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivializes an illness that can be life-threatening,” warned its spokesperson Stephen Buckley.
Centre for Mental Health spokesperson Andy Bell, on the other hand, said that while the formula can appear to belittle mental health issues, it can also serve as an opportunity to discuss depression to help people “know what to do” in case it happens to a friend or a loved one.