Blue Monday this year will fall on Monday, January 15th. Rather than thinking of the gloom and doom it represents Blue Monday can be turned into an opportunity to offer wellbeing support to employees. Towergate Health & Protection has realised the potential of the day and is urging employers to turn this negative into something positive…
What exactly is Blue Monday?
Deemed the most depressing day of the year, the timing of Blue Monday is based on a formula using factors such as debt levels, weather conditions, time since Christmas, broken new year’s resolutions and low motivational levels.
Towergate Health & Protection says, however, that employers would do well to use the day as an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of supporting mental health and wellbeing, and to put solutions in place.
Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, says: “Rather than viewing Blue Monday as a time to curl up and avoid the world, employers can take the chance to promote mental health awareness, to offer support and to make sure that they have the right provision in place.”
Why is Blue Monday an issue in the workplace?
According to the Health and Safety Executive, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for the most days lost due to work-related ill health in 2022/23 – a total of 17.1 million days1. Aside from absenteeism, mental health issues contribute to lack of engagement and communication, as well as poor focus, decision making and time management, to name but a few.
What can employers do to make Blue Monday a wellness day?
There are many types of support that can be implemented with Blue Monday in mind. Family budgets are often stretched post-holiday season and addressing financial concerns of employees can help to address mental health issues too. This does not have to come down to offering higher salaries. Access to financial education can be very beneficial and there are many options for discounts and vouchers from certain retailers. Setting up group risk benefits for life assurance, critical illness, and income protection, can help to put employees’ minds at rest about an uncertain future.
Statistics point to higher numbers of people filing for divorce in January2. This is also a multi-faceted issue, where employees could benefit from support in terms of legal advice but also with mental health issues, childcare, finances, social anxiety, and much more.
Mental health support in general is a vital part of any wellbeing programme but particularly so in January. There are a lot of options employers can choose to offer, from meditation and yoga classes to wellbeing apps and counselling, as well as employee assistance programmes (EAPs), which offer several avenues of support.
How should support be communicated?
With such mixed issues coming to the fore throughout the month of January, it is important to make sure that the wellbeing support offered is wide-reaching but also that it is widely communicated, and ongoing.
Debra Clark explains: “Typically people only take notice of the things that directly affect them. If they are not suffering from mental health issues at the time, they will likely ignore any messages regarding mental health support. This is why it is vital that a wellbeing programme has all elements regularly communicated, so that support is front of mind at the time that it is needed.”
A mix of communication methods is often the most successful option in reaching the widest number of employees. Employers can consider emails, apps, portals, workshops, webinars, team meetings, caser studies, and more.
There is lots of support available to anyone struggling. A few organisations that can help include:
The Samaritans (a charity to support anyone in distress)
Citizens Advice Bureau (for legal and financial support)