We survived Blue Monday… now what?
Talking about ‘Blue Monday’ and youth mental health during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
By Jessica Williamson
Every third Monday in January has been dubbed by popular culture as “Blue Monday” because it’s suggested to be the one day of the year we are most depressed.
A combination of winter weather, time since the holidays, wavering motivation, among other concerns are supposed contributing factors. However, without actual scientific evidence proving this theory, the origin of Blue Monday remains unclear.
You may have already made it through the Blue Monday without even knowing it existed; but did you find yourself or the kids around you sadder these past few weeks?
According to Dr. Angelique Jenney, Wood’s Homes Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health, although Blue Monday may just be a marketing gimmick, it’s a good opportunity to bring crucial, open mental health discussions to centre stage.
“Feeling sad or low during the pandemic isn’t a new topic, but with or without Blue Monday, the effects on child and youth mental health is still real.”
Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in Canada on March 11, 2020, the impact is still evolving and starting to show its effects on our lives.
“We’ve seen an increase in mental health issues of children and youth across the spectrum. Mostly because of, (if you think about what contributes to mental health), the loss of sense of security, structure and routine and being able to set goals and have things to look forward to.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc in children’s lives. They’re living in situations that they haven’t lived in before, they’re doing school online, and some might not have any escape from unhealthy home environments,” says Dr. Jenney.
Children’s Healthcare Canada (2021) reports that children’s hospitals are experiencing, on average, double the number of admissions following attempted suicide, a three-fold increase in admissions related to substance use, and a 60% increase in the number of admissions related to eating disorders.
Furthermore, according to an Angus Reid study, 54% of Canadian youth reported that missing their friends has been the worst part about being socially isolated. Another study found that more than half of youth (53%) indicated that lockdown due to the pandemic has had a negative impact on their relationships with friends.
“I don’t think we’re going to be out of this pandemic any day soon, and there is something about this ‘ongoingness’ that I think is particularly problematic for everyone, but youth in particular.”
Dr. Jenney suggests that online schooling for children and youth, understandably, has strengths and weaknesses. Communication and resources have become more accessible and less oppressive, however eating disorders and other mental health conditions are on the rise; perhaps potentially from youth spending so much time analyzing themselves in front of a screen,
Putting the last two years of the pandemic into perspective, some groups of children and youth may have never even stepped foot into a classroom. “If you think about a first-year university online, think about what those kids have missed out on. It’s significant,” says Dr. Jenney.
Parents who are looking for ways to help their kids cope through emotional difficulties are encouraged to come into Wood’s Homes walk-in clinic or contact their crisis and counselling services.
Wood’s Homes is a children’s mental health centre that provides treatment and support for children, youth and families with mental health needs. It works with approximately 20,000 children, youth and families who are facing mild to severe emotional and behavioural mental health issues, with services ranging from the least intrusive to live-in treatment services.
Their continuum of services includes specialized treatment, assessments, leading-edge counselling services and education. Services are focused on early intervention and prevention, the immediacy of response and family-centred, trauma-informed care.
“Wood’s Homes has always been ahead of the game, with their 24/7 crisis service, telephone, text and mobile servicing, walk-in-clinics. In the last two years, they’ve continued to expand their online services. For example, they are even offering online family therapy,” says Dr. Jenney.
If you are a parent noticing that your child’s behaviours are changing; indicating they are not acting like who they were before, Dr. Jenney encourages seeking professional help as soon as possible.
Being observant of their feelings, emotions and behaviours are helpful ways to stay involved and to gather information to make any necessary mental health interventions if needed. “You should never wait. That would be my message; if you’re concerned about something, reach out, talk to someone – that doesn’t hurt anybody.”
Wood’s Homes Mental Health Resources:
Remember, there is always someone who can help. We’re here to help and have several ways for you to get a hold of us.
Walk-In counselling available at Eastside Family Centre: https://www.woodshomes.ca/programs/eastside-community-mental-health-services/
About Jessica Williamson
Jessica Williamson is a graduate of Camosun College’s Digital Production, Writing and Design program. She is experienced in film, TV, print, radio and modelling, and has worked with companies such as Bell Media, Shaw TV and Rogers Communications in promotions and for on-air hosting work.
Being a fresh addition to the local creative scene, she lives by the quote: “Good things come to those who hustle.”
Find out more about her and her work here: https://yesjessvisuals.ca/
References and resources:
- Wood’s Home blog : https://www.woodshomes.ca/blog/mental-health-learning/the-most-depressing-day-of-the-year/?fbclid=IwAR0dptNnkVSQ-IV8tKwgeRkfF_hdFSIQGOGickA6DugM4_pKUns5O1JkoLU
- Wood’s Home blog: https://www.woodshomes.ca/blog/our-staff-voices/no-one-has-time-for-blue-monday/
- Wood’s Home blog: https://www.woodshomes.ca/blog/more-from-woods-homes/2022-blues-why-its-still-important-to-press-the-reset-button-on-a-game-that-hasnt-changed/
- Children’s Healthcare Canada. 2021. Expanding urgent health supports for Canada’s children and youth. [online]: Available from static1.squarespace.com/static/5bd8a55e4eddecb150a2acdb/t/607f615f39c5cd3dffa401b1/1618960736458/Expanding+urgent+health+supports+for+Canada.pdf