Blue Monday has become something of a media phenomenon in recent years, albeit there’s some disagreement on which Monday of January it actually falls. But the media clamour to tell us how best to beat the blues is frankly unhelpful, trivialising an issue that is anything but.

For many (one in four of us according to MIND), mental health issues are for life, not just for Christmas. They can be isolating, anxiety-inducing, frequently life changing and potentially devastating for all involved.

Fortunately, stigmas are slowly but surely beginning to disappear. The Royal Family - usually stoic in their enforcement of a stiff upper lip - have spoken with refreshing frankness about mental health issues and initiatives such as 'CALM' - the campaign against living miserably, and 'Mates in Mind' have begun to tackle the illness at its core.

But is that translating to the workplace? It should be.

The Stevenson-Farmer Review put the economic cost of poor mental health at between £74 and £99bn a year - and yet corporate attitudes remain, for the most part, staid.

The same review found that only four in ten employers have any sort of formal policy or system in place to support staff in tackling mental health issues. Put simply, it's ok to call in sick with the flu, but to call in with anxiety or depression? - that's a different ball game.

It's high-time business took a smarter approach. Studies suggest that just a 1% increase in well-being can result in a 0.5% boost to productivity. What's more, according to a report by Soma Analytics published in October last year, those businesses that do tackle mental health generate up to three times more profit than those that don't. 

But forget the data. We're talking about people here -the estimated 25% of us that at some point in our lives have experienced or will experience disruption to our mental health. 

For me, it's about being decent. No man or woman, after all, is an island. To believe our lives in and out of work exist in isolation would be naive. Home pressures trigger work issues and vice versa. 

We are making strides in the right direction but there is still a long way to go. As the celebrated BT campaign advocated - 'it's good to talk'. And talking is often the first step in tackling this debilitating and horrifyingly common illness. 

So, at the risk of sounding like one of those slightly left-field management training modules - turn to the members of your team today and ask them how they are. Take a minute to think about the challenges that might be affecting those around you - and, critically, speak up about what's affecting you. The more people talk, the louder the message becomes and the closer we will get to tackling an issue that impacts us all. 

Isabel Stanley Wickett headshot

Isabel Stanley-Wickett is an associate director at Camargue.

destroy