Blue Monday: Addressing Depression in the Workplace

Blue Monday:  How to address depression in your workplace

We’re a few weeks into the New Year, and, for some employees, the ‘January Blues’ may be beginning to kick in. However, don’t fear, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.

Blue Monday, more commonly the “most depressing day of the year”, is the name given to a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) where we’re left feeling more than a little down.

It was first publicised in 2005 by British psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall as part of a press release for holiday company Sky Travel, who came up with a formula to calculate what causes the ‘January Blues’. The formula is: [W+(D-d)]xTQ/MxNa

Confused? Put more simply, there are a number of factors that lead to Blue Monday, these are:


W = Weather

D = Debt

d = monthly salary

T = time since Christmas

Q = time since failing New Year’s resolutions

M = low motivational levels

Na = the feeling of a need to take action


Whilst the idea may be pseudoscience, with the formula derided as ‘nonsensical’ by scientists, it has helped to raise awareness for those suffering from mental health issues, such as low mood and depression.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 1 in 6 workers are currently dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress. This can stop people performing at their best, and lead to decreased productivity within the business.  The wider economic cost of mental illness to England alone is estimated to be £105.2 billion each year.

With such a high number of employees currently suffering from a health issue, employers are increasingly acknowledging it as something they can’t afford to ignore.

So how can you help address depression in the workplace?


Create a culture that supports staff to be open about their mental health

One of the most effective ways to deal with mental health problems is simply to talk about them. However, too often employees can be afraid to discuss their mental health within the workplace. A recent survey conducted by mental health charity, Mind, revealed that one in five people felt they couldn’t tell their boss if they were overly stressed at work and less than half of people diagnosed with a mental health problem had told their manager.

It’s important that your employees understand that their mental health matters, and that the business is there to support them. Treating mental health like physical health, and setting up a clear mental health strategy will help to ensure that that employees experiencing mental health problems can get the support they need straight away, encouraging them to communicate their mental health with your business.

As we discussed within our ‘New Years’ resolutions for managers’, when you listen to your employees, you make them feel valued – both personally and professionally. Listen carefully – be empathetic and do not interrupt. Together, put together a plan of action as to how you can make your employees feel supported at work.


Utilise ecotherapy techniques

Ecotherapy, treatment programmes which aim to improve your mental and physical wellbeing through nature, has proven to work as an effective method of improving working conditions within the workplace. Things that contribute to a healthy work environment include:

  • Encourage your employees to go outside on their breaks – not only will the exercise benefit their mental health, but being outdoors can help your employees to refresh and reconnect with the world.
  • Increase the number of live plants within the office – a simple step that can go a long way. According to research, the colour green can promote balance and harmony, helping to alleviate stress in the workplace. Increasing plant life will also help to increase fresh oxygen levels, aiding both physical and mental health.
  • Invest in full spectrum light bulbs – lighting that mimics natural sunlight lifts our mood, and can help to support those suffering from Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD).


Provide employees with the support they need

CiC’s UK Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), offers everyone in your organisation access to 24/7/365 independent and completely confidential support and advice via our EAP services.

Whatever the situation, improving employee mental health and wellbeing is very important. Our EAP consultants, who are fully qualified counsellors or psychotherapists, will help clarify the issues that your employees are facing and, if appropriate, put them in touch with the expert help they need.


For more information, call us on 020 7937 6224 or complete our short enquiry form.