Employers urged to turn Blue Monday into an opportunity for wellbeing support

Towergate Health & Protection is encouraging employers on Blue Monday to transform this typically negative day into a positive opportunity.

Blue Monday, often cited as the most depressing day of the year, is calculated using factors like debt levels, weather conditions, the time elapsed since Christmas, failed New Year's resolutions, and low motivation.

Towergate Health & Protection suggests that employers should use Blue Monday as a chance to emphasise the significance of mental health and wellbeing support, and to implement effective solutions.

Debra Clark, Head of Wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, remarks: “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.”

In the workplace, mental health is a critical issue. The Health and Safety Executive reported that stress, depression, or anxiety led to the highest number of work-related ill health days in 2022/23 – totalling 17.1 million days. Mental health issues can also cause reduced engagement, communication difficulties, poor focus, decision-making, and time management.

Employers can adopt various supportive measures with Blue Monday in mind. Addressing financial worries, especially post-holiday season, can be beneficial. This does not necessarily mean offering higher salaries but could include financial education, retailer discounts, and vouchers. Providing group risk benefits for life assurance, critical illness, and income protection can also alleviate concerns about the future.

January often sees an increase in divorce filings, presenting multiple challenges for employees. Support could encompass legal advice, mental health, childcare, financial guidance, and help with social anxiety.

General mental health support is crucial in any wellbeing programme, especially in January. Employers have a range of options, from meditation and yoga classes to wellbeing apps, counselling, and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).

Communicating support effectively is vital. With a variety of issues arising in January, ensuring that wellbeing support is comprehensive, well-communicated, and ongoing is key.

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.”

Employers should use diverse communication methods to reach the broadest audience. Options include emails, apps, portals, workshops, webinars, team meetings, case studies, and more.

There is lots of support available to anyone struggling. A few organisations that can help include:

Mind (a mental health charity) - www.mind.org.uk

The Samaritans (a charity to support anyone in distress) - www.samaritans.org

StepChange (a debt advice charity) - www.stepchange.org

Citizens Advice Bureau (for legal and financial support) https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Relate (relationship support and counselling) - www.relate.org.uk