Psychologist explains why we have 'Blue Monday' and how we can find happiness in January

Credit: PA

People often associate the month of January with post-Christmas blues, failing New Year resolutions, and the arrival of festive bills and cold dark nights.

With today marking us halfway through the month, it's not a surprise that it is often known as one of the most challenging days of the year, earning the title 'Blue Monday.'

However charities and experts from across the region are using today to highlight the importance of mental health every day of the year and not just today.

Dr Gary Wood, is a psychologist from the Black Country, and hosts the podcast "Happiness: A Sceptics Guide."

Dr Gary Wood has told ITV News Central that he believes 'Blue Monday' is a "PR stunt designed to get us to buy holidays."

Dr Wood explained: "The important factor in the whole PR stunt is the number of days between pay days.

Christmas we get paid a little bit earlier and January of course is a long month, so we've got 5-6 weeks between pay days, so that's the whole rationale behind it.

He added "People usually don't like January because everybody is short on money, we've all had the Christmas blow out."

Dr Wood explained that it is completely normal to feel low in January as people are typically worried about finances, the days are shorter and the weather is generally colder.

He suggested that we can fight the blues by finding cheaper things to do, for example:

  • Going out in the countryside or just to a park.

  • Take some photographs. There are beautiful photos you can take this time of year. We have cameras on our phones, and it's a way to capture the moment and be in the moment. You may even be able to do something with the photos.

  • Connect with people, it doesn't have to be spending money it could just be going and meeting up for a walk, maybe a little bit of exercise.

Dr Wood continued by saying: "Sometimes just talking to a friend can help to get some sign posting, if you do feel it is something more than the season the the first thing is to talk to someone.

"You don't know how strong you are until you can ask for help when you need it, that's real strength."

Meanwhile, at Birmingham New Street station, Samaritans' volunteers are encouraging people to "share a cuppa and a catch up" with someone they care about, as part of the Brew Monday campaign supported by Network Rail.

The volunteers will be offering people tea bags and talking to passengers about the importance of reaching out for help.

Patrick Power, head of stations for Network Rail’s Central route has said: “We’re really proud to be supporting Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign again this year and spreading this important message to our passengers.

He added: "Samaritans has worked in partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry for over 10 years encouraging the public and our staff to recognise the power of human connection and start a conversation which could save a life.

"So, we’re putting that into practice this Brew Monday and saying out with the blue and in with the brew!”

Although this time of year may get more publicity surrounding mental health struggles, Samaritans' volunteers say they hear similar things all year round from those who contact them.

Julie Bentley, Samaritans’ CEO, says: "Throughout the various lockdowns and restrictions, the pandemic has shown us that staying connected with others has been a vital part of getting people through difficult times.

We know the impact talking and listening can have, and a cup of tea and a chat won’t solve everything, but it can be a start."

She added: "You don’t have to have all the answers or solutions, you just need to listen and start a conversation which could just be the support that someone needs.”

Mental Health charity Mind have also spoken out about today being known as Blue Monday, saying that people should speak out for support or help, regardless of what day it is.

What to do if you or someone you know needs mental health support or advice:

  • Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at

  • Papyrus offer support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am – midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to

  • Rethink Mental Illness offer practical advice and information for anyone affected by mental health problems on a wide range of topics including treatment, support and care. Phone 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm) or visit

  • Campaign Against Living Miserably's (CALM) helpline and webchat are open from 5pm until midnight, 365 days a year. Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or chat to their trained helpline staff onlineNo matter who you are or what you're going through, it's free, anonymous and confidential.

If you have an emergency and a life is in danger, contact the emergency services on 999.