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Blue Monday: Debunking the myth and supporting your school staff all year round

Date published: Date modified: 2024-02-09

January’s third Monday, “Blue Monday”, is thought to be ‘the most depressing day of the year’. Spoiler alert: it’s all a myth!

In this article we discuss the origins of ‘Blue Monday’, how seasonal changes can affect your mental health and well-being, and how you can help support your school staff’s mental health all year round.

Blue Monday – a PR stunt to help sell holidays

Blue Monday was coined by psychologist, Cliff Arnall, back in 2004. He devised the formula for the bleakest day to help a travel company sell holidays.

In Arnall’s equation, there are seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.

It accounts for January’s gloomy weather, the long stretch until payday underscored by festive debt and the passing of Christmas and New Year festivities.

So, is Blue Monday the most depressing day of the year?

In a nutshell, no. Blue Monday has been leveraged in marketing campaigns for 18 years, often to promote things linked to improving our well-being.

It’s a blanket statement to suggest everyone in the nation suffers from low motivational levels, debt, etc. Although, it might tap into how we’re feeling at this time of year.

Whether it’s the post-holiday slump, the cold and rainy weather, or the big stretch between paydays, this time of year can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder and other struggles such as a change in sleep patterns and eating habits.

Prioritising mental health all year round

It’s important that we acknowledge the seasonal effects on mental health and make mental health a priority all year round, not just on the third Monday of each January!

Let’s explore practical strategies for your school to implement to boost morale, build a positive work environment, and promote staff well-being all year round.

  1. Open communication channels:

Encouraging open communication is essential for creating a supportive school culture. Provide opportunities for staff to express their feelings and concerns. Establishing regular check-ins, whether through one-on-one meetings or group discussions, allows educators to share their experiences and seek support from colleagues and administrators.

  1. Professional development with a focus on well-being:

Offering professional development workshops centred around well-being can empower staff with the tools to manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Topics may include stress reduction techniques, time management strategies, and mindfulness practices. By investing in the personal and professional development of educators, schools demonstrate a commitment to their overall well-being.

  1. Encourage peer support:

Establish a sense of camaraderie among staff by encouraging peer support networks. Staff members can share experiences, provide advice, and lend an understanding ear to one another. Facilitate opportunities for informal gatherings or team-building activities that build a sense of community and support within the school.

  1. Create a positive work environment:

The environment within the school plays a crucial role in influencing staff morale. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for the hard work of school staff can make a significant impact. Creating a positive environment can improve the mood of educators as they go about their daily tasks.

  1. Flexibility in work schedules:

Acknowledging the demands of the teaching profession, schools can offer flexible work schedules or additional support to help staff manage their workload. Providing resources such as lesson planning assistance, peer collaboration opportunities, or even access to mental health professionals can alleviate stress and contribute to a more balanced work life.

As schools navigate the challenges of supporting staff mental health, remember that building a supportive and positive environment for staff is paramount.

By implementing these strategies, educational institutions can actively contribute to the well-being of their educators, creating a foundation for a resilient and thriving school community.

Remember, investing in the well-being of staff not only benefits the individuals but also positively impacts the entire school ecosystem!

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By SAAF Education
SAAF Education 340 110

12 January 2024


Mental Health

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