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.