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Blue Monday: Gimmick or scientific fact? Either way let’s get talking about mental health
18 Jan | 10:14

This is the message from our lead on mental health as we approach the so-called 'most depressing Monday of the year'.

This is the message from our lead on mental health as we approach the so-called 'most depressing Monday of the year'.

Since early 2000s, people have referred to the third Monday of the new year as ‘Blue Monday’. The day is widely believed to be the time people are most likely to suffer 'the blues' as it represents a concerning time for people who have perhaps given up on new year's resolutions, the Christmas credit card bills have landed through the letterbox and the early payday in December is now looking like a distant memory.

Whether it is scientific fact or it is purely a PR gimmick, Inspector Steve Baker wants people to use it as an opportunity to start a conversation and get people talking about mental health.

Insp Baker, of the Force's Safeguarding department and lead for mental health, said: "Mental health is something we should be mindful of all year round, not just one Monday of the year. However, it does raise an opportunity for people to actually stop and think about how things such as debt, family issues, low self-esteem and many other factors we may take for granted can hugely affect someone's mental wellbeing.

"I always remind people 'it's okay not to be okay' and by offering someone the opportunity to talk is better than leaving them to suffer in silence.

"Given that one in four of us will suffer some form of mental health issue in our lives, why not just go out of your way this Monday and start a conversation with someone who you think maybe needs someone to talk to.  It could really make a difference to someone."

The Force's figures do show that over the past four years the average number of reports of mental health-related incidents were slightly higher on a ‘Blue Monday’ than an average Monday throughout the year.

The average number of mental health-related incidents which were on a Monday was 24 compared to an average of 30 which occurred on a ‘Blue Monday’.

Insp Baker added: "While there may be more factors contributing to these figures, we do appreciate that January can often be a difficult month for people and we need to be mindful of just how seriously this can affect people."

Back in 2016, Insp Baker helped launch a collaboration between Northumbria Police and Northumberland Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust (NTW) to introduce a Street Triage Team, which is a team of police officers, mental health nurses and medical professionals who respond to those in an mental health crisis.

He explained: "The Street Triage team is there to provide a full wrap-around service and give the best quality of care for those who are most vulnerable or become mentally unwell.

"Our aim is to get people in crisis the best quality of care, not detain them in a police cell.

"As the police officers, we can't provide the best medical or professional care these people may require longer-term but together with NTW and partners, we can help them on the right path.

"I also just want to stress that you don't have to be a police officer, mental health nurse or any sort of medical professional to help somebody with mental health issues. We just ask you to be a kind human being and simply start a conversation with someone."

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said: "Blue Monday allows us the perfect opportunity to reinforce that it’s good to talk openly about mental health and the help that’s available.

“Northumbria Police works hard to ensure the right service is available to those who need support. I am fully committed to making sure this work continues and I’d like to thank all our officers and partners for providing help and support to people experiencing mental health issues – not just today but every day"

Fiona Kilburn, Associate Director of Access Central services at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “However negative a situation may seem there is help available. We would encourage people to contact their GP in the first instance if they are concerned about their low mood.

“Our website has more information for people looking for support including a range of self-help guides. We are also running a Winter Wellness campaign which aims to raise public awareness of loneliness, stress and anxiety throughout the winter months.”

If you need urgent help with your mental health you can contact NTW’s Initial Response Services which are open 24 hours a day. People living in Gateshead, South Tyneside or Sunderland can call 0303 123 1145, and if you live in Newcastle, North Tyneside or Northumberland you can call 0303 123 1146.

If you or someone else has been harmed or is at immediate risk you should call 999 as you may require an emergency response.”

Start a conversation today using #itsoknottobeok 

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