‘Blue Monday’ sparks mental health discussions in Saskatchewan

Blue Monday occurs every year on the third Monday in January. The meaning of this day is filled with controversy because it is supposedly the saddest day of the year. Global News/ File

Every year, the third Monday in January is known as Blue Monday — supposedly the saddest day of the year.

The Blue Monday concept surfaced in 2005 after a press release from British travel company, Sky Travel. Sky Travel cited a psychologist who used a formula pointing to the third Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year as a result of weather, Christmas bills and low motivation levels.

Read more: How to beat ‘Blue Monday’

Now 18 years later, many experts consider the day little more than a PR stunt by a travel agency.

“If you see the equation, you’d see that they’re kidding around,” David Mischoulon, the director of the depression clinical and research at Massachusetts General Hospital, explained.

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“But as publicity, they’ve had a fair amount of traction. And now the concept is out there. So people talk about Blue Monday.”

He said Blue Monday has become more of a conversation surrounding seasonal depression and mental health as a whole, rather than an exact day more people feel depressed.

“The winter months in general can be difficult for many people, whether they have seasonal depression or whether they have regular depression,” Mischoulon said. “But there’s nothing about this particular day of the month that’s any different from the day before or after.”

According to the World Health Organization, around 450 million people struggle with mental health illnesses every day. In Saskatchewan, the weather has a big impact.

Read more: Study shows decline in Canadians’ mental health during holidays

With less sunlight throughout the winter months, seasonal depression is higher in colder, less sunny climates.

“Seasonal depression is thought to have to do with the way the sunlight hits the retina of the eye,” Mischoulon said.

If you are dealing with depression or mental health issues, Mischoulon said the best thing to do is contact a therapist or medical professional.

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“The best first step is probably to talk to your primary care doctor, explain what your concerns are. Primary care doctors are qualified to treat depressive disorders,” he explained.

Jan. 16 marks Blue Monday in 2023.

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