Blue Monday doesn’t add up

By Sue Wixley 16 January 2012


Pundits are arguing today over which day is Blue Monday. Is today the most depressing day of the year or is it in fact next Monday?

The dubious formula behind the day looks like this:

[W + (D-d) x Tq]
M x Na

where W = weather, d = Debt, T = time since Christmas, Q = time since failing our new year resolutions, M = low motivational levels and Na the feeling of a need to take action.

I agree with Dr Dean Burnett, who poured scorn on the idea in The Guardian today. Burnett criticises the pseudoscience of Blue Monday and argues that the concept is ‘disrespectful to those who suffer from genuine depression… who often face an uphill struggle being taken seriously, especially as “depression” is such a general term.’

Of course it is ridiculous to suggest that a predetermined set of external factors could trigger depression in an entire population one Monday. However, the idea of upacking a wide-ranging concept like “well-being” (or the lack of it) into its component parts seems to me to be a sensible one.

This is something NPC has been pursuing through the development of its Well-being Measure. An online survey tool designed for 11- to 16-year olds, the Well-being Measure enables charities and schools to ask the young people they work with how they feel about their lives. The survey explores eight different aspects of well-being:

  1. self-esteem
  2. emotional well-being
  3. resilience
  4. satisfaction with friends
  5. satisfaction with family
  6. satisfaction with community
  7. satisfaction with school
  8. life satisfaction

The Well-being Measure is one of the tools and approaches that will be explored in an upcoming half day event that NPC and Third Sector are putting on at the end of the month.

I doubt that speakers will be sharing any  neat formulae at Measuring soft outcomes: How to demonstrate improved services and prove value to funders. But I’m sure there will be fascinating insights and practical tips about how different charities have approached the challenge of understanding and demonstrating the soft outcomes of their services.