A version of this article was first published in 2018 and we are pretty much resharing it as it was because the whole corporate invention of "Blue Monday" continues to be peddled as "science", and there are only a limited number of ways to say this is bullsh*t.
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 by retail and marketing companies to sell deals, treats, treatments, and generally prey on people's anxiety each year.
The Blue Monday "equation"
[W + (D-d)] x T x Q
M x NA
The "equation" for Blue Monday is a PR concoction that cobbles together in multiplication form quantifiable but unrelated things like how many days since Christmas (T), your level of debt (D), your salary (d), and the average temperature/weather (W), and then divided by arbitrary values for low motivational levels and the need to take action. If it looks like math it must be real, must have been what people thought. And despite being a mess of different and unrelated quantities you always get a very specific date out of it, which is always the third Monday in January.
Information has always been very vague about the details of this equation because the best lies, fabrications, and misinformation 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 solely 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 in its title.
The only laudable thing we have seen coming out of this PR nightmare is that mental health charities in Britain and around the world are using the date as a way to highlight mental health struggles and related stigma. Since one in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and nearly 1 billion people are currently affected, according to the latest UN data (2022), this is more important than ever.
Depression is a mental disorder that can affect anyone and it can be the result of several genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, contact your healthcare provider, or there are multiple online resources that offer help, information, and a listening ear, for example in the US here or here. Depression shouldn't be trivialized and it definitely shouldn't be used to sell holidays.
If you or someone you know is struggling, help and support are available in the US at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255. In the UK and Ireland, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. International helplines can be found at SuicideStop.com.
A earlier version of this article was published in January 2023.