A North East charity is aiming to brighten up what has been dubbed the most depressing day of the year. 

 

The third Monday in January has become known as Blue Monday, due to the combination of cold weather, dark nights and post-Christmas blues, leading to an increase in mental health issues. 

 

The Russ Devereux Headlight Project, a Teesside-based suicide prevention charity, has launched its Turn Blue Monday Bright campaign to help people who may be suffering. This year it falls on Monday, January 16th.

 

Charity founder Catherine Devereux, who set up the project in 2019 following the suicide of her husband, popular Teesside businessman Russ Devereux, said: “We know that this day can be particularly difficult for anyone suffering with their mental health, resulting in a rise in issues which can lead to suicide.

 

“We want to give people a reason to smile that day and to remind them of the little things they can do to feel better. We hope that in turn it will raise awareness of mental health issues and gets people talking, which will help us achieve our mission to reduce the number of suicides in Teesside.”

 

Turn Blue Monday Bright was first launched in 2022, following an idea from The Russ Devereux Headlight Project’s operations manager, Suzanne Julian, and encouraged people to beat the blues by dressing up in bright colours, with a suggested donation of £1.

 

Middlesbrough’s Centre Square lights were turned orange and the campaign was supported by Teesside firms such as Charles Clinkard and AV Dawson, both of which have signed up again this year. Local primary schools that took part last year have also signed up again.

 

Catherine added: “The over-riding aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of, and reduce the incidence of, mental health issues and suicide.

 

“The ONS figures for suicides registered in 2021 show that the North East had the highest regional rate, rising to 14.1 deaths per 100,000 people. The region has had the highest rate now for six out of the last 10 years – we want to change that.

 

“Each suicide will impact, directly or indirectly, a huge number of people, including first responders, family, friends and the wider community. 

 

“Following a suicide, those affected are at higher risk to die by suicide themselves, so it is important to support those people. Our one-to-one therapeutic support helps them work through their grief, while our Headlight Hubs, a six-week bereavement group programme, allow them to meet others who have been through the same and helps them to feel less isolated and alone, and to gain peer support.”

 

Caswell’s is sponsoring the campaign this year, providing 5,000 wristbands to local school children to raise awareness of the Russ Devereux Headlight Project and the Turn Blue Monday Bright campaign.

 

Paul Murphy, commercial director at Caswell’s, said: “We are proud to support the Turn Blue Monday Bright campaign this year by supplying the orange wristbands for the school children.”