Well folks, we’ve done it. We’ve made it through the first three Mondays of January. Welcome to Blue Monday – supposedly the most depressing day of the year.
Only that’s a load of rubbish.
The story goes that by this point in the year, we’re broke, back at work and crawling towards payday. It’s miserable outside. Festive celebrations feel like a distant memory, and the guilt is real as all of our New Year’s resolutions are in tatters.
As a result, we’re likely feeling pretty down in the dumps. Cue a marketing campaign in the early 00’s to sell summer holidays, and Blue Monday was born.
Now something of an urban myth, Blue Monday has become an annual event where companies attempt to capitalise on our low mood to sell us the perfect antidote to the January blues. Summer sun? New health food fad? Go on then.
Only, well, that’s not quite how it all works.
The mental health charity Mind has their concerns, saying that Blue Monday “contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivialises an illness that can be life threatening… depression is not just a one day event.”
So instead of jumping on the Blue Monday bandwagon, let’s use today as a way of starting conversations about wellbeing and mental health in the workplace.
Wellbeing at work
Just like we’ve all got physical health, we’ve got mental health too. And it needs taking care of. Why is this important in the workplace? Well for starters, we spend most of our time there. Work has a massive influence on our wellbeing, so it should be in every company’s best interests to make that influence a positive one. The stats speak for themselves…
- People with low levels of wellbeing are more likely to leave their jobs as a result of job dissatisfaction.
- In 2019, 39% of employees in the UK experienced poor mental health due to work, or where work was a contributing factor.
- Around 1 in 8 sick days in the UK can be attributed to poor mental health.
On the flipside, staff with good mental and physical wellbeing are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels, and be engaged in their work.
So where do we in L&D come in?
To paraphrase Richard Branson,
“Look after your people and they’ll look after the rest.”
If people aren’t feeling their best, there’s no way they can perform at their best. So what can we do about that?
Put employee wellbeing first
According to the NHS, evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve mental health and wellbeing. Among them is ‘keep learning’, with the idea that learning new skills helps to boost self-confidence and raises self-esteem.
What is the learning culture like in your organisation? If you’re not sure where to start with this one, this free ebook Changing Learning Cultures: A How To Guide might come in handy.
Invest in learning around wellbeing and mental health
To promote positive mental health and wellbeing, people at every level within an organisation can benefit from becoming more informed about mental health in general, and what support is available should they need it. One way to do this is to have resources in place, easily accessible and well signposted for everyone. THRIVE’s mental health and wellbeing (coming soon) elearning bundles are a great starting point.
By actively taking steps to support employees with their health and wellbeing we can help remove the stigma around mental health in the workplace, and help both managers and staff be better equipped at having those conversations.
Use awareness days to spark the conversation
Ultimately, we’re all human beings and we all need some support from time to time. Use days like Blue Monday, or any of the other many awareness days throughout the year, as an opportunity to remind people of the health and wellbeing initiatives in your workplace.
Be more than Blue Monday
So there we have it. Wellbeing and mental health are a big deal all year round. So investing in your people should be a big deal all year round, not just when it’s on trend.
What are you doing to support the wellbeing of your team? To help you get started, why not download our free introduction to mental health resource.