WHO does not love a quirky awareness day?

Well, me.

I am not objecting to campaigns dedicated to charities or important causes, like International Women’s Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Book Week Scotland and the like.

But National Popcorn Day? Come on. Squirrel Appreciation Day - really? Does the planet absolutely have to have a World Nutella Day?

Most of the really daft ones, of course, are dreamt up by marketing firms flogging a particular product or attention-seeking so-called influencers. (World Nutella Day, if you are interested, was started in 2007 by an American blogger and now, on February 5, people all over the world celebrate it by sharing their recipes and pictures on social media.)

Some capture the imagination more than others, but one that seems to me to be particularly pointless and actually counter-productive, is today’s Blue Monday.

Allotted to the third Monday in January, it is so called because it is allegedly the most depressing day of the year thanks to a cpmbination of dreich weather, post-Christmas debt and general fed-up-ness.

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In fact, it was a PR stunt by a travel company back in 2004. The phrase was coined by a psychologist who was asked by said firm to come up with a “scientific formula” for the January blues.

There is, of course, no such formula and no science to back up why this particular day should be any gloomier than any other. Even the psychologist who came up it, Dr Cliff Arnall, now actively campaigns against it.

In the run up to Blue Monday every year, my email inbox is full of tedious press releases from companies who use it to flog their particular product, the more tenuous the better – everything from new paint colours to teething toys for babies.

Rather than starting a conversation around mental health, it is used to sell stuff, which is undermining and unhelpful to those already feeling under pressure because of anxiety or depression.

In Glasgow, the Campaign to End Loneliness has harnessed the expertise and support of organisations such as Volunteer Glasgow and Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector to help people get through this most challenging of periods in our recent history. During the pandemic, everything we would normally rely on to protect our mental health - mainly, being with other people - has been removed, so campaigns like this are more important than ever.

Have your National Pie Day or Spam Appreciation Week if you must.

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But when it comes to so-called Blue Monday, let’s give it a rest. We should ditch it and instead embrace initiatives like The Campaign to End Loneliness. Perhaps then, we can finally have a meaningful conversation about mental health.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.