Commenting on Blue Monday, Professor Subodh Dave, Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“As we enter what many people believe to be the most depressing day of the year, otherwise known as Blue Monday, it is important to remember that mental health problems are not just for a day. Conditions such as depression can manifest at any time and can take months or even years to recover from.
“Blue Monday started out as a marketing scheme that was designed to sell summer holidays to people at the beginning of the year. It is based on a non-scientific formula that claims the combination of days since Christmas, debt and bad weather makes the third Monday of January the saddest day of the year. While this formula may not be real, we do know that more people are struggling with their mental health than ever before.
“The number of people being referred to mental health services reached record levels during the Covid pandemic. In 2021/22 there were more than 4.5 million referrals to secondary mental health, learning disability and autism services, up from approximately 3.9 million the previous year.
“We are now in the middle of January and many people are starting to feel the full effects of the cost-of-living crisis. Families are being forced to choose between heating their homes and feeding themselves. That is a decision that nobody should be forced to make, and would undeniably make anyone stressed or anxious, but in more severe cases it can also contribute to serious mental health problems.
“There is a common misconception that depression is simply ‘feeling low’ but it is far more serious than that. Someone with depression may suffer from a complete lack of energy which can seriously impact their home and work lives.
“Psychiatrists are trained to help patients work through their symptoms all year round and it is extremely important to take care of your mental wellbeing and get support to adapt to difficult situations.
“If you’re struggling with mental health problems, talk to your GP who can review your symptoms and talk you through available treatments.
“Blue Monday supposedly falls on the third Monday of January, however, people living with depression and anxiety have to cope with it every day. We need more regular and open conversations about mental health if we are to encourage more people to get the help they need.”