While Blue Monday can be a good opportunity to raise awareness and encourage action, mental health is a perennial issue and is a subject we make efforts to deal with responsibly at RingCentral.
In popular culture, the third Monday of January is painted blue as it’s believed by some to be the most ‘depressing’ day of the year. While this idea has little to no basis in fact – the formula used to identify the date is given no credence by scientists – the social recognition of a date on which to focus positive intentions can be a useful initiative. Many businesses use the date as a chance to raise mental health awareness among their employees, employing fundraising activities or campaigns such as ‘Brew Monday’.
For many of us, January feels like a long month. After the Christmas break, coupled with its spending and indulgence, January can be a month of temperance and restriction. Payday can seem a long way off. The nights are still long, the temperature drops; the supermarkets are already promoting Easter treats but the campaigns feel cynical. Summer holidays appear far off.
To recognise the cause, to help keep morale high and to raise some money for appropriate charities, we got together to do something we’re really good at: we ate cakes.
Some people bought cakes, some people brought plates, some people even home baked. Halfway through the morning we put out the call encouraging people to grab a bite to eat and contribute to the collection box. At the end of the day, we counted up the money from the box and sent it towards Mind, a mental health awareness charity. Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing mental health problems. It also campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding around mental health.
The aims of the charity fit right in with our goals of raising awareness around depression, stress and mental health in general. At RingCentral we believe it’s important that we promote mental health – not just on this day, but all year round – and that people know support is always freely available, whether it be speaking with a line manager or colleague, or using the Vitality private medical service via our Employee Assistance Programme, there’s always help and no one should suffer in silence.
To bring further attention to the cause (it’s easy to get lost in the clamour of office activity) we arranged for our colleagues to wear blue to work, following the ‘Blue Monday’ theme. Despite the office being quiet due to our annual Kick-Off, we managed to get a group together for a photo opp – check them out in the picture above! To top it all off, we distributed messages on our internal communications tool reminding everyone to share ‘Kudos’ with colleagues as a way of expressing gratitude. As I’ve said before – it only takes a second to say “thanks” or “good job” but it can have a lasting impression.
Did you or your colleagues participate in any Blue Monday / mental health awareness raising activities? What are you doing to promote health work/life balance in your organisation? Leave your comments below – I’d love to hear from you.