Is Blue Monday hiding wider mental health issues in the workplace?

Date: Monday, 20th January, 2020

How is your Monday going?  It is the start of a new week, probably lots to do, reading and actioning emails and maybe planning ahead for yourself and your team members.

But did you know that today is “Blue Monday”, supposedly the most depressing day of the year.

It is calculated using a series of factors in a (not particularly scientific) mathematical formula. The factors are: the weather, debt level (specifically, the difference between debt and our ability to pay), the amount of time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take charge of the situation.

It’s also right in the middle of a period when employee absences are likely to be high and this is a challenge that a lot of businesses we work with face every year. January is a long month and employees may not be able to face coming into work especially when you add financial woes into the mix.

However, not all psychologists agree with the simplistic description of Blue Monday, “The reality is there’s no such thing as the most depressing day of the year and it trivialises serious mental health issues” says Dr. Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare.  “Mental Health and Mental illness is an ongoing matter and achieving a good work-life balance is important to being a healthier you”.

According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six workers is experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, at any one time. For many, the workplace is the epicentre of the problem, and with an estimated 300,000 jobs lost each year as a result of mental illness, it is clear that this is a crisis that needs addressing.

Mental health issues often create a pattern of short-term sickness absence, and sufferers often find it easier to face disciplinary action for faking a sickie than to admit they have a mental health issue because of the stigma attached.  Not only does being in trouble make them feel even worse, it also prevents them from getting the support they could get if their managers were aware of the problem.

Whatever your views, mental health isn’t something that can be solely tackled from the top down. Business owners and line managers need to take responsibility and recognise that they play a role in the well-being of their employees.

Dr. Winwood agrees that the “Monday Blues” can lead to less motivation, so employers should be looking at ways to improve on employee morale.

“If you think you workforce are lacking Monday motivation, identifying the reasons behind the low morale is key.  For example, improving the working environment is just one step to changing this.  Some minor improvements, such as better lighting, more comfortable chairs, or a supply of hot drinks, water and caffeine free alternatives may improve things for everyone and thus alter the mood”.

So Blue Monday might just be the right time to think about how you can ensure that your employees are happy, productive, and enjoying good mental health.

It has business benefits sure…  but it’s also simply the right thing to do.

If you need any further advice or want to chat confidentially about an employee that might need assistance get in touch with us.  Contact us on hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or call 0203 538 5311.­­

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