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Beyond the Blue Monday

[1A] Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 5.10.52 PMWEBThe third Monday of January has been coined as “Blue Monday” for being the most depressing day of the year. This determination has been justified by a so-called “equation” that deems Jan. 18, 2016 as the most depressing day of 2016. This notion of a Blue Monday raises many conversations that need to be had within our society.

First, the very fact that we have pinned a rhetorical commemoration that is Blue Monday presents inherent flaws in how we perceive mental illnesses, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and more. As a matter of fact, the concept of Blue Monday can be linked to “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” which is a depressive illness triggered by a lack of sunlight in winter, affecting the body’s hormones. This illness is found in vast numbers, as around two million people in the United Kingdom suffer from this illness.

However, the problem lies in how we perceive the roots of Blue Monday. Instead of the Seasonal Affective Disorder mentioned above, many view the most depressing day of the year because in January the weather is cold, people have crippling debts from the holidays, and many are adjusting back to normal daily life from the holiday festivities. What we should realize is that although these factors may exacerbate symptoms of mental illnesses from those who suffer from them, they are not the inherent roots of mental illness and depression, which Blue Monday commemorates. We often loosely parallel the word ‘depression’ as sadness and frustration, from the functions of our daily lives – but as I’ve mentioned before, depression is a mental illness caused by a mirage of factors. By developing a link between mental illnesses and depression to just simple external factors within our life, we diminish the correct notion of depicting mental illnesses as actual ailments and exaggerate the stigma we carry for mental illness.

So, what needs to occur with Blue Monday is a serious conversation within the media and within our internal selves to shed the wrongful stigmas we carry on mental illnesses. What does this mean? For one, we should steer clear from commercializing Blue Monday as a marketing ploy for monetary gain. By doing this, we essentially make light of those suffering from grave illnesses by commercializing their pain and suffering through a marketing ploy like, “Defeat the Blue Monday pains by buying xyz” or “Escape the blues with these travel deals!” Doesn’t it seem inherently wrong that we profit off of people’s mental illnesses that have severe and dire consequences such as self-harm, by creating a rhetorical commemoration that makes light of a social epidemic?

So, instead of commercializing and making light of Blue Monday, we should turn our attention to raising awareness for mental illnesses, because illnesses aren’t confined to a single day, week or month. We should support organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association that assists with employment, housing, and recreational services. We should support various initiatives such as ‘­­Understand Us’ that aims to defeat the stigma we carry on mental illness. Finally, we should work towards our personal stigmas that we may carry on mental illnesses that only exacerbate the social challenges that people with mental illnesses carry.

Blue Monday is a misrepresentation of a far bigger issue within our society. People view Blue Monday as the most depressing day of the year, but for many, that sense of depression isn’t confined to Blue Monday. We should seize the rhetoric that is Blue Monday and utilize it to raise awareness, support initiatives, and derail the incredibly wrong stigmas that we carry on mental illnesses.

About Jae Won Hur

Jae Won is a business administration major with aspirations of law. Within the campus, he is involved in the Hill Business Students Society and Hill JDC West debate. Outside of school, he is on the board for a non-profit patient advocate group Hemophilia Saskatchewan.