Just Like Last Year, And The Year Before, Blue Monday Is Still Not A Real Thing

My face when people peddle Blue Monday as a fact rather than the bullshirt it is. file404/shutterstock

It’s the third week of January and with that comes the annual nonsense that is "Blue Monday". Let’s be extremely clear: Blue Monday was a day selected by British holiday TV channel Sky Travel in 2005 for an advertisement to sell sunny holidays to fed up Brits – not the day calculated to be the most depressing of the year – and yet it continues to be used to peddle deals and whatnot each year.

The "equation" for Blue Monday is a PR concoction that cobbles together in multiplication form (if it looks like math it must be real) quantifiable but unrelated things like how many days since Christmas, your level of debt, the average temperature, and then divided by arbitrary values for low motivational levels and the need to take action. Somehow you get a very specific date out of it, which is always the third Monday in January.

[W + (D-d)] x TQ
M x NA

(W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action

Information has always been very vague about the details of this equation because the best lies have as little info as possible. But if we were to seriously believe that this was a real equation then it would mean that our motivational level is calculated in a currency and our need to take action is a temperature (or vice versa).

The equation is abysmally bad and it’s literally there to make this nonsense appear scientific. It is a bit like sci-fi plots using made-up, sciencey-sounding words for a deus ex machina. Actually, this is worse. Sci-fi at least has "fiction" upfront and honest in its title.

The “author” of this equation, Dr Cliff Arnall has claimed that his intentions were to get people talking about depression. He's so committed to this that this year he urged people to embrace the possibilities January brings by booking a break with Virgin Holidays. He also came up with the “happiest day of the year” equation, which was sponsored by ice cream company Wall’s. Probably to have people talk about obesity in children.

His intention might not be sincere but talking about depression and mental health (MH) is incredibly important, so several MH charities in Britain and around the world are trying to hijack focus from the commercial ploy and get people educating themselves about MH and related stigma. Since one in four people will experience a MH problem in their lifetime and 450 million people are currently affected, this is more important than ever.

Having MH problems doesn’t make someone more prone to violence, an oft-portrayed trope in the media, and depression is not just feeling “a bit sad”. Depression is a mental disorder that can affect anyone and it can be the result of several genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

If you are struggling with mental health issues please do seek help (from somewhere like here for example) and if someone shares their situation with you just support them and help them through it. Depression shouldn't trivialized and it definitely shouldn't be used to sell holidays.