Susan Fleming, Course Director for Counselling and CBT at Staffordshire University was featured on BBC Radio Derby discussing Blue Monday with Ian Skye’s radio show on 17th January 2022.
During the interview Susan shared some background to Blue Monday, the need for us all to check in with ourselves and with each other to determine whether we need access to support services. She shared insights into cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and how to become a trained CBT therapist. Incase you missed the radio show Susan has summarised the interview to share as part of this years’ university mental health day.
Blue Monday is a term coined in the early 2000s to name the 3rd Monday in January. The name suggests it’s a low mood Monday however the scientific evidence behind it is open to critique. A number of factors including number of daylight hours, financial status after seasonal spending and how many days there are before the next public holiday are allegedly part of the equation. There is a question mark over whether it was linked to a travel firm’s publicity campaign for the new year.
With over 2 years of uncertainty and loss in this global covid-19 pandemic, it may be that the term Blue Monday has run its course. Haven’t there been more difficult days that we have collectively endured than just one Monday in January?
The Samaritans say ‘biscuits’ to the term Blue Monday. They have campaigned to change the term to Brew Monday instead. Let’s turn this into a day to focus on talking to each other and reaching out, maybe over a cuppa and plan more of these days into our calendars every week, not just the 3rd week in January.
It is helpful to talk about mood throughout the year and the opportunity to talk about mental health, mood and how we are feeling can really help people. Therefore, whatever your stance on this nominated day, it provides the opportunity to discuss feelings and mental health.
Checking in with ourselves
Blue Monday provides us all with the opportunity to check in with ourselves, assess how we are coping and to identify the impact that our mood is having on our lives. This is a continual process that we should engage with regularly throughout the year. Checking in with ourselves can help us to assess whether we can cope on our own, or whether we need to seek help.
You can do this for yourself. Consider your mood on a scale from 0 meaning worst mood to 10 meaning best mood and think about where you are. Over time review your ratings and how they change day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month.
This process of checking in allows us to consider what has had an impact on how we are feeling. This helps us to identify whether we are able to manage on our own, or whether we would benefit from professional help by working with a professional to help us manage.
Susan recommends to not hesitate in reaching out for help as soon as you identify changes towards mental ill health and that this is really important so that things do not continue in the same pattern. Therefore, it is really important to reach out as early as possible to gain access to the support that you may need.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
From a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) perspective, we can use this calendar day as an opportunity to consider feelings and how our thoughts and what we are doing might be leading to vicious cycles of increasingly negative experience.
CBT is a theory that looks at how we think and our behaviour and how this impacts on our mood. It is used with success in the treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental ill health conditions.
CBT is based on how a thought can impact on how we feel and then has an impact on what we do and vice versa. This can become a vicious cycle as these negative thoughts, behaviours and feelings can continually impact each other which can lead to feelings of being unable to manage.
CBT focuses on breaking the cycle to help to improve how we feel and think. These changes can be made with therapeutic support and is one way in which you can start to move out of the vicious cycle.
Need access to support?
Please do reach out to your GP and they can refer you to support services. There are also mental health charities and organisations who work throughout the UK who can offer mental health support including the Samaritans:
Call any time, day or night for free: 116 123. Chat online: https://www.samaritans.org/
Online services, such as www.getselfhelp.co.uk and apps can offer you the opportunity to engage in some of the aspects of CBT theory and track your mood so that you can keep checking in with yourself and see how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours change over time.
Our University has a range of support, creating an inclusive community for talking about our mental health together.
Help others – CBT training
There has never been a better time to train in therapy, including CBT, to support mental health services which can struggle to meet the demands. This is especially critical given the unknown impact the covid pandemic has had on mental ill health. After being trained you may help in 1-1 or group therapy for a charity or organisation, or for self-help online or phone support services. Due to the shortages, there is a growing need for people to join and contribute to supporting people with their mental ill health.
There has never been a better time to train on our therapy courses with good prospects for future skills demand and an opportunity to contribute to more than 15,000 hours of therapy that we offer to the community through our courses.
Find your counselling-related course:
- BSc Psychology and Counselling
- Introduction to basic counselling skills
- Certificate in Counselling
- Professional Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling
- MSc in Psychotherapeutic Counselling
- Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP)
- PgDip in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Critically, ‘blue’ or ‘brew’ Monday offers us all the opportunity to keep the conversation open regarding mental health. So please do take the time to check in with yourself, your family, your friends, your co-workers, everyone who you know so that we can all support each other. Perhaps this day can act as a reminder for us all to make contact with support services that we have been meaning to for some time.
The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The department is home to the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research, a large and active group of psychologists, PhD students and researchers conducting work into a variety of psychological disciplines and topic areas.
Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.