Happiness, Trust, and the Truth about Blue Monday (Ep.18)

In this episode (Ep18) of Happiness, A Sceptics Guide, psychologist Dr Gary Wood and ‘sceptic on the street’ Paul Flower use the PR stunt of Blue Monday – the so-called unhappiest day of the year – to explore the links between trust, truth and wellbeing. Based on Gary Wood’s book ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing’ (published by Routledge). To read more about the book, for the UK go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd. And for the US go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd

Head over to Podbean to check out the epiosde Happiness and Trust and Truth and Blue Monday, or stick around, read on, and check out the handy video presentation below.

I’ve talked about Blue Monday a lot of the years, but perhaps biggest regret is tallking to Ben Goldacre ‘off the record’ for his demolition of the whole Blue Monday PR Stunt, in his Bad Science article for the Guardian in 2006, the provocatively titled MS = media slut, but CW = corporate whore.  I was the ‘academic in psychology’ who had been offered the equation, mentioned by Goldacre. Although it never got to the money stage. In December 2004 I was with a media agent (on a trial basis) when the offer came through. And when Goldacre wrote his article I was still with them, so I wasn’t entirely sure hoiw I stood legally. I probably did the right thing, but part of me wishes I’d my name published and be damned. As I’ve discuused in another blog post apart from the obvious fakeness of the equation, I wasn’t impressed by the PR company’s insistence that a male psychologist would be better for PR – along the lines that men are better at mathematics. For a brilliant dissection of the equation see Goldacre’s Guardian article.

Invariably each year I’m asked about Blue Monday by journalists or on Twitter and I have to confess that I have taken vain pleasure in the idea of being the first psychologist to turn down the Blue Monday campaign. But I’ve come to the realisation that maybe I’m part of the problem in perpetrating the myth. And in a recent interview for ITV News I offered the conclusion that the best way to deal with Blue Monday is to stop talking about it! Instead, we should promote initaitives that encourage us to talk about mental health all year round. Time to take my own advice. See links below the video.

The ITV News article gives links to the follow organisations if you or someone you know needs mental health support or advice:

  • Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

  • Papyrus offer support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am – midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to pat@papyrus-uk.org

  • Rethink Mental Illness offer practical advice and information for anyone affected by mental health problems on a wide range of topics including treatment, support and care. Phone 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm) or visit rethink.org

  • Campaign Against Living Miserably’s (CALM) helpline and webchat are open from 5pm until midnight, 365 days a year. Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or chat to their trained helpline staff online. No matter who you are or what you’re going through, it’s free, anonymous and confidential.