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Blue Monday may be a PR nonsense, but it’s another chance to talk about mental health discrimination

Posted on 16 January 2012 | 10:01am

Part of me hates the Blue Monday thing. Another part of me thinks that anything that gets people talking about mental illness is a good thing. And on Blue Monday (today or next Monday depending on how you calculate it) people certainly talk about it, albeit often in a fairly superficial way. Blue Monday, I note, is trending on twitter, so it has certainly entered the language, and though just seven years old, embedded itself in the the national calendar.

The part of me that hates the Blue Monday thing is echoed nicely by this Guardian blog from psychologist Dean Burnett who reminds us that the whole thing was dreamed up as a PR stunt for a travel company, and that it trivialises depression. Right on both counts. Nothing to add. Worth a read.

The part of me that likes Blue Monday is the one that will be taking part in a Blue Monday event at the Work Foundation tonight, along with speakers from Mind, the Work Foundation and Inclusive Employers, drawing attention to the issue of mental health and the workplace.

It is hard enough for people with mental health problems to get into the labour market at the best of times. These are not the best of times, so it is even harder. That is why we have to highlight the stigma and discrimination, and also the benefits to companies from being open-minded when seeing a mental health history or problem written down on a CV.

I know people with schizophrenia who hold down good jobs. I know people with bipolar disorder who would be rated the best in the firm by their bosses. Yet I know plenty more who would not dare admit to a problem because they think – and they may be right – that it will count heavily against them. Now that is a cause to feel blue this and any other Monday.

With The Happy Depressive out last week, Digital Dan at Random House has been scouring the media for mentions and came across this really nice piece from Suzie Vestrie in The Scotsman. Suzie is campaign director of ‘see me’, Scotland’s national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health, and she has a beautiful conclusion to her article … ‘Every one of us who speaks out about having a mental health problem removes a stone from the wall of stigma and discrimination. Every one of us who then steps forward and offers support and understanding takes the weight of that stone away; enabling all of us to have a clearer view of a Scotland where people with mental ill-health receive the care and support they need, without judgment.’

Now I know we are in the midst of the debate about independence. But for Scotland read Britain, or even better the world, and that is a vision worth fighting for.

  • Jordan-Leigh Cunningham

    Mental health is undervalued and doesn’t receive the correct recognition and support from employers!

  • Ehtch

    TGIF, as in the restaurants always used to make me laugh. Is the thank god chain still going these days? Being out in the sticks with sheep and rabbits and hares and foxes makes me out of touch with city life these days.

    And by the way, never mind Blue Monday, my favorite New Order track, the Kiss of Death, the instumental B-side to the Perfect Kiss from them from Manchester,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pD_Amm0eic

  • Ehtch

    Ricky Gervais was a pussy on last nights Golden Globes, lacking sharpness of past, and was too english polite,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQrMGlIE79M
    Charlie Sheen friend not ever mentioned, but if my Ford Capri looked like this, I would be happy with life,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd-tF7Dms6M
    Spank me Capri, please.

  • Gothikaangel

    mental health is still a taboo subject to many and it is very difficult to find work. I suffer from S.A.D but i never inform potential employers in case it goes against me. I have a illness not a contagious disease.

  • Michele

    Not hoping to be a smartrrrrrrrrs or seem to teach you to suck eggs but as you sound as if this has been a long-term condition ….. have you tried one of those light boxes and/or VitD tablets along with min 20mins out in daylight per day?

    I’m often out of sync with what is meant to be our inate 24hr cycle / rhythm, being unwilling to wind down when I’m busy, I just keep on and on and on and so on so have always had very bad sleep patterns.   The light box helps me get back to the Circadian, to avoid that ever-decreasing circle of late to bed late to get up and too little daylight for the spirit.

  • Michele

    I’ve not seen a TGIF for ages Aitch but (swoon) I went to one of Jamie’s Italian venues last week; have never ever had such great tasty food in such a smashing atmosphere.  Very good for the soul, if you get one in Wales, MSYGT ;-)

  • Michele

    I must admit I’ve never heard of Blue Monday and its supposedly being a specific day in January but I did actually LOL at this, rubbishing the originator’s credentials in the linked article

    ……….. Using that logic I’m an Asda manager because I once made one of their staff fetch me a discount chicken.

  • Michele

    I know I’m in the wrong section, Health vs Economy but I’m anxious for Ollie’s input about S&P’s recent pronouncements and their having been a GS company :-(

    Given that other judgemental opiners have not come to the same conclusion about Eurozone countries that S&P have
    and given that lenders and insurers will gain from all this,
    can anyone come up with a ‘sounds like’ such as the one we have for *ankers that can be applied to the insurance companies that will gain from higher interest rates incurred by Ez lenders afte the removal of As or plus signs?

  • Anonymous

    Michele I explained this two blogs back (because I saw Alistair asking on Twitter and I’m not on twitter.)

    If we had real totally unbiased ratings agencies – both USA, France and the other eurozone countries would have been downgraded a long time ago, and to less than AA+.

    The Chinese ratings agencies downgraded both a long time back.

    Its pretty simple, if you do things which are economically stupid, then the ratings agencies downgrade you. When your debt or deficit reach certain levels, combined with a few other metrics such as inflation, interest rates.

    I don’t understand your point about insurers or rather I think you don’t. The insurers have already been shafted by first the financial crisis and then eurozone debt. But the anti-capitalist administration of George Bush bailed them out.

    If Greece, Italy or France wanted to borrow money off you, would lend it to them? Would you want a bit more collateral and a higher interest rate than if you lent to, say, Germany?

    Money can be made off thriving economies. Thats where investors prefer to put their money. But it can also be made off awful economies, I’ve done this myself on a very small scale. When governments make idiotic economic decisions (usually due to political factors), like Gordon Brown or the eurozone countries did, then yes nasty evil financiers can profit from it. What they can’t do is force them to make those idiotic decisions.

    Its all the governments fault not the ratings agencies who are already too soft. And as for the Eurozone’s plan to “regulate” them, I’m sure Hitler and Stalin would be proud.

  • Anonymous

    Apologies for previous 2 off topic posts (though Michele started it lol!)

    On topic – I’ve been following this blog and Alastair on twitter and wondering what, if anything, I could do in regards to depression. I got to thinking, for some people (not all) one of their problems is facing people, which makes going to work very difficult. I have read about people who have managed a bit better by doing work where they don’t have to do this so much, in one case the person became a tree surgeon.

    I was thinking in our modern digital anti-commuting age, lots of people can work from home. I know people who are journalists, insurance saleswomen, and of course web developers who work from home. I was trying to think of ideas for this. There are companies I have heard of from a friend in America who have banks or networks of people who work from home in IT. I thought wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of company for depressed people who could utilise a bank of people who can do some work from home, in various fields.Does this sound mental (sorry), impractical etc or could there be the shoots of an idea somewhere?

    It came to me from reading something years ago about an ethnic group that were being discriminated against, I can’t even remember where but I think it was in South America. A man started to employ these people in his business, and he did so well, that eventually his competitors couldn’t compete, and they had to start hiring them too.

    Anyway, even if that particular idea is rubbish, I’d appreciate if anyone has any other ideas for lines of work that are easier for depressed people to do, and even other work-from-home type jobs as I know this is what some sufferers would prefer.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone watching “Borgen”, the Danish political drama on BBC4?
    I recommend sky+ or iplayer it.

  • Ehtch

    Northern lads and ladies, left me with an healthy affect back in Llandudno August Bank Holiday in 1980, scooters everywhere, quite dreamy and wotstheword, can’t remember, oh yes, romantic, that’s the word. Great weekend we had camping in Llandudno then, and I danced my arse off to, as per this,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2NySUcbv3w

  • Ehtch

    Air, me capricorn, taurian and virgo friends, stars say, wished Jaclyn was in my envelope. What star sign are you Michele? Please don’t say librian, I have had enough of them in my life.
    Air le francais, Jaclyn Smith playing table tennis,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rui0hzN-EFE

  • Ehtch

    A rugby site I know give little awards for postings in the past year, and I think you should do so too, Alastair, but don’t hold back in your feelings, describe your posters as you see truely it, as myself, a mad barking to the moon welshman living on our isle, and I will be happy with that. Poem poster of the year? I create, again,

    Poems are worms for thinkers,
    moles to in your mind,
    Digging furrowing in thought,
    foreheaded wipped taught.

    Thanks for the pre-concieved gong coming to pretty handsome me. I would like to thank my family and friends, and all that bollox…

  • Michele

    I’m mithering about it being (always being) S&P (of whom I think very few of us had even heard till a couple of months ago) that downgrade first and then of course other raters follow.  Not only do they cut first, they also announce about other countries they have in their spotlight. 

    It is manipulation of nations’ standings.  Some organisations do that intentionally by political means, ratings agencies affect it too by their actions.

    I make no claims at all to be an economist but having spent very big budgets o.b.o. employers have experienced what happens like a domino chain when order values change because of sudden fluctuations in currency and any one deal can involve several countries.

    In addition to nations paying interest / higher interest I’ve speculated about insurance policies taken out in case of default, as with some individuals’ borrowings. 

    I also said previously (hush mah mouth did you have the audacity not to know LOL) that rather like the PPI scandal we have had recently about individuals’ insurance cover there seems a nasty synergy (to me) about credit ratings / interest rates / insurance.

    I’m truly sorry if I have missed any of your posts (I have all my fingers and toes crossed :-P) but I make no claim to read all and doubt many of us do.

  • Michele

    I’m mithering about it being (always being) S&P (of whom I think very few of us had even heard till a couple of months ago) that downgrade first and then of course other raters follow.  Not only do they cut first, they also announce about other countries they have in their spotlight. 

    It is manipulation of nations’ standings.  Some organisations do that intentionally by political means, ratings agencies affect it too by their actions.

    I make no claims at all to be an economist but having spent very big budgets o.b.o. employers have experienced what happens like a domino chain when order values change because of sudden fluctuations in currency and any one deal can involve several countries.

    In addition to nations paying interest / higher interest I’ve speculated about insurance policies taken out in case of default, as with some individuals’ borrowings. 

    I also said previously (hush mah mouth did you have the audacity not to know LOL) that rather like the PPI scandal we have had recently about individuals’ insurance cover there seems a nasty synergy (to me) about credit ratings / interest rates / insurance.

    I’m truly sorry if I have missed any of your posts (I have all my fingers and toes crossed :-P) but I make no claim to read all and doubt many of us do.

  • Michele

    You are daft :-)

    I’m going to post a pic soon from a vantage point I think you know, near Horniman and across to the Shard which is about 2/3 up now.   I reeeeeally don’t envy the blokes right up there in those cranes.

  • Michele

    I don’t know whether Keane Sinead still looks in.

    Hi if you do, haven’t spotted you since that very long CRB thread, hope you’re well. 

  • Gilliebc

    That’s a nice idea Ehtch, the awards thing I mean.  Olli I would be the winner I think.  However if there were several categories you would be favorite for the most ‘barking’ I would say and I mean that in a good way.  Some of your comments are spot-on others have a more scatter-gun approach, whilst others are completely off the wall.  Always entertaining though :-)  How’s your Dad, btw?

  • Ehtch

    Dad doing ok – all clear. He’s been lucky with the big c, but it has taken years off him.

  • Ehtch

    Horniman in Forest Hill? Lived in Forest Hill for a while, on Davids’ Road, behind the Sainsbury shop. They were doing some building work even then at the Horniman.

  • Ehtch

    Jamie has got good energy, he seems to get up to everything, the school dinners in the US was an interesting series, even if he might as well be talking to a wall. Very informative on the US mindset it was, telly advert bought society, and capitalism at it’s sharpest.

    And I might have dissed Blue Monday from New Order, but the b-side of that is excellent too and has always stuck in my mind from then, The Beach,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn66szsjUGw
    Sands Saudersfoot spinning discs with Benny Bond ’84 - still working there today, a real funny bloke.

  • Michele

    Camsham, in response to Dennis Skinner today, words to the effect of ‘I often tell my children there’s no need to go to the Natural History Museum to see a dinosaur, there’s one right here’.

    Osbo responding to another of Mr Skinner’s Qs some months ago, again in words to the effect, suggested that a way for the national budget to be reduced would be for Mr S to retire.

    Both remarks are arch ageism and what did ‘Mr Speaker’ do?  Poor thing, he must think he will ever be accepted in to being one of theirs.  Forget it Mr Speaker.

    I feel sick that Camsham was able to produce another generation. 

  • Anonymous

    Free speech. Firstly, congrats to Alastair for allowing free speech (as far as I can tell) on his website.

    Secondly, has anyone seen this about wikipedia blackout:http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/English_Wikipedia_anti-SOPA_blackout

    Thirdly, I think people rightly rail against abuses of free speech, for instance wiki above, and of course the tremendous job done by the guardian and (eventually) supported by labour (Tom Watson, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband.)

    Well, the European Union’s attempts to silence the credit ratings agencies I believe fall within that category. The agencies should be allowed to have their say, and the eurozone have its say, and investors should be free to make their own choice on who is most credible. To me the ratings agencies paint too sunny a picture, and the eurozone paints way too sunny a picture.

  • Anonymous

    Michele you don’t read all my posts?! Now I’m offended! :)

    You talk about manipulating nations standings. This can only be done if a nation has left itself vulnerable through dozy economic policy. So obviously France and Italy are wide open, but you’d be hard pressed to find an organisation that can do this to a properly run country like Switzerland or Singapore, and even the Germans and the Scandinavians have escaped it. The rating is not really set by S&P, Fitch, or Moodys, its set by a countries own stupid chancellor.

    Companies can do things to protect against default in the countries they’ve lent to, you might be talking about the dreaded CDS (credit default swaps) that act like little insurance policies.If a nation defaults these are supposed to pay out. Except governments do everything they can not to trigger these even when they are in effect defaulting, so they invalidate them.

    Maybe you reckon companies take out these or similar products, hoping to force default. No doubt this is what some do if they could, but so far I’d say the governments have overpowered them.

    The biggest scam in all this is the bailouts to banks. Both the direct ones, and the sovereign debt ones whose end customer is also banks. The US, the UK and the Eurozone have all been taking taxpayers money to give to rich people and they have persuaded their populations that this is a good idea. Goebbels would have been proud.

    So when these scum want to rob their citizens savings (unless you know how to avoid this), and the ratings agencies and short sellers try to stop them, who is the bad guy?

    Their are small voices on the right, and some on the left standing up against this, but not many. Why? 
     
     

  • Ehtch

    More barking some could say, welsh singing, in appreciation of men and ladies with arms to defend us in our name, enjoy, brits, in any name that you want call youselves, cowards or not,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL-MWS8FQI0
    Hammond organ well twiddled as here perfectly in past times of my memory,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-7QSMyz5rg

  • Gilliebc

    I’m sorry to hear your dad’s had a brush with the big C, both he and you have enough to contend with I would imagine.  It’s good that you have a sense of humour Ehtch, it always helps in those sort of situations I believe.

    The big C can be sneaky at times. The female office manager at our local health centre, an attractive woman aged 48 years, died suddenly earlier this month shortly after being admitted to hospital.  Apparently, the cancer she thought she’d beaten in 2010 had unknown to her, returned with a vengeance.
    She leaves behind a husband and teenage children. 

    The fact that she worked in a health centre and that still happened is what I find the most shocking aspect of this sad tale.

  • Ehtch

    Yes, it is a bastard, Had to put up with my mother too going down the tip with immune system rheumatoid arthritis full blown, and it attacked her heart and lungs which was the end of her. Sitting in that hospital room with her gasping will haunt me to my dying day, The tears are now spilling as I write this – oh jesuzz fucking christ, hanky time

  • Michele

    Stop the generalising. 

    Whole populations are affected when *ankers apply punishment to a nation because of the cheating of a minority of citizens …. we are feeling a little of that but we feel nada compared to the Greek and the Portuguese etc.

    Ollie subscribes to the theories about GS, S&P have long been part of and are still closely affiliated with them; hence my curiosity about his reaction to S&P’s sudden prominence even Paxo asked wth they were a couple of months ago.

    Ratings agencies enable bankers and insurers to make even more than high
    interest rates out of countries that are NOT EVER 100% responsible for
    their current situations, there are centuries of background to it all as
    well as the  parities to the Euro agreed in this one.

    The whole upper echelon of the Eurozone AND the IMF are as responsible and guilty for agreeing with the accounts that Greece et al submitted as those  countries are for doing so.  That echelon had their reasons, they are culpable and so far are getting off unfairly.

  • Michele

    I don’t think the Wikipedia thing is so clear cut.
    Yes it can be corrected by anyone who knows what’s been posted to it about them by knowing the keywords to check on a daily or hourly basis but it’s as prone to being misused as any other liberty that’s not respected / used well and only positively.

  • Gilliebc

    Life can be so cruel at times.
    I know what you mean about it haunting you Ehtch.

  • Anonymous

    Its not clear cut, and like most people I would like there to be free speech, but also for intellectual property to be protected. I think this legislation is unbalanced though. Of the two, free speech is the most important.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with most of that.

    By GS you mean Goldman Sachs yeah?
    They can certainly make money by shorting – but shorting only works when you are right and the country, currency, company whatever does go down in value, otherwise you lose money.
    Creditor nations, or countries with at least low debt, are not so easy to short. If they tried to short the singapore currency for example or the chinese yuan, they’d get burned.

    If you are talking about GS selling things to one set of people, knowing that they’d fail, and helping other people profit from the fail – then yes I definitely think that should be looked into.

    The biggest scam involving Goldman Sachs is when they were bailed out.
    Governments did these things not banks. And then people say the banks control the government. The solution is limited government. When America had a limited government, banks didn’t get bailed out, nor did they get any other welfare from government.

    On the rest, I agree, the majority of people in Greece, and later Ireland etc will be punished for what a handful of politicians and bankers did in conjunction with international bodies such as EU, IMF.
    The solution is default and decouple. So Ireland owes a load of bankers money in Europe? Tough. That’ll teach you for lending. Whats the downside… countries can’t borrow money as easily or at all – BRILLIANT! We shouldn’t want borrowing! And I’ll never vote for labour till they recognise this.

    The solution I have given funnily enough is endorsed by the most left wing europeans (Irish Socialist Party) and the most right wing americans (Ron Paul’s economic advisor.)

  • Michele

    I don’t agree that free speech should apply in a covert way (while pretending to be opening things up).

    ANYbody, any hick, any liar, anyone at all can post whatever they want to Wikipedia and their subject is not apprised, so lies can be being read about people for  whoknowshowlong before they know a thing and can do the necessary correction that Wikipeeps rely on as defence of their empire.

    It is ripe for misuse.  I could be supposing wrongly, they might actually advise anyone about whom anything is written but I doubt it.  I’d welcome re-education if I’m guessing wrongly – especially as guessing and spouting is something I often criticise re others’ posts and public yattering.

    I’m all for an open society that is set up responsibly but it has to be that.

    I’m sick to the back teeth of the attitude of ‘well let them say what they want and people can decide about them for themselves’ …… yeah that’s how Ian Hislop has earned brownie points for years with his smarmy slurs.

  • Michele

    I daresay Cam does.  Reviewers were laughing a little while ago about the aspiring PM scheduling appointments for canoodling with her hubby and now he’s anninced that he keeps a night clear per week for them to *cough* have a meal together.

  • Michele

    All of the west would have been down the pan in ’08 if both GBs had not invested in their countries as they did.
    There is no rule or mode of behaviour that can apply in any circumstance and there is nothing correct about thinking that sometimes borrowing, if for investment, is the right and proper thing to do.
    We disagree, end of.

  • Michele

    Hmmmmmm ….
    my ‘correct’ should read ‘wrong’.

  • Anonymous

    Borrowing for investment can be good. What is defined as investment is disagreed on and not just by you and I.

    On bailouts etc, fine maybe we disagree. No problem with that.

  • Anonymous

    I’m no expert on this one either Michele. Its one of those when I heard the case for protecting IP, I agreed with it, then when I heard the opposing case re free speech, I agreed with that too. I think they are saying it gives government control over what can go on the net, which like govt press control is unwelcome, but… yeah… I’m no expert.

  • Michele

    I think my mistrust of Wiki is about something other than this week’s protest which is about anti-piracy.  I don’t hold any copyrights but wouldn’t like them being jumped over if I did.
    Hardly believable that it’s actually regarded as an actual ‘encyclopaedia’ by commenters this week. It’s useful but not completely  reliable and is 100%  exploitable by fibbers.

    I think I’m going to have to change my ID to Ms Blimp!

  • Mark Wright

    I think a distinction should be made between talking abut depression/mental illness and *recognising* that people are talking about it.

    “Help me if you can I’m feeling down
    And I do appreciate you being ’round
    Help me get my feet back off the ground
    Won’t you please, please help me.”

    John Lennon couldn’t have been more explicit when The Beatles released this in 1965. Yet no attention was given to these lyrics as the Fab Four embarked on one of the most punishing schedules of their career. 1965 was not the time to be talking about depression.

    Happiness is not abstract. It is real We can feel it. Cameron is to be applauded for attempting to address this fundamental quest which, lest we forget, is enshrined in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

    In these days of the iPad2, Twitter and LED TV we should perhaps look backwards in order to reconnect ourselves with that which makes us human. It is also not an easy concept to grasp as everybody has a differing interpretation of what ‘happiness’ is.

    What is gradually changing, however, is the recognition that we all as individuals are more
    than flesh and blood. *Who* we are is now recognised as being just as
    important as *what* we are, if not more so and that in recent decades we’ve become detached from the very things that make us who we are.

    The pursuit of happiness.

    The result can never be guaranteed. But we have an obligation to ourselves, and to those around us, to at least try to obtain it.

    To quote Bruce Springsteen:

    “I’ll wait for you, and if I should fall behind wait for me.”

    How about putting *that* on the front of a manifesto, eh?