A North East charity hopes 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 mix 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, will host its Turn Blue Monday Bright campaign for the third year running, to help people who may be suffering. In 2024, it falls on Monday, January 15.

Charity founder Catherine Devereux, who launched the project in 2019 following the suicide of her husband, popular Teesside businessman Russ Devereux, said: “Blue Monday can be an incredibly tough period for anybody struggling with their mental health. Sadly, that can lead some down dark paths and can even lead to a rise in suicide.

“We are committed to doing everything possible to prevent that, and with Turn Blue Monday Bright, we want to show that even during difficult times, there can be hope.

“So the focus is instead to remind those struggling about the brighter side to life, along with all the small steps they can take around their mental health that can make a big difference.

“And we want to keep the conversation around mental health issues going, with the ultimate goal of lowering the suicide rate in the North East, as that figure is still far too high.”

Turn Blue Monday Bright was first launched in 2022, when the Headlight Project team encouraged people to beat the blues by dressing up in bright colours in exchange for a suggested donation of £1.

So far, over 25 local organisations have already signed up to support the event, including Charles Clinkard, Intelect, Waltons, AV Dawson and Attis Insurance.

Additionally, several schools are also taking part. They include Hutton Rudby Primary School, St Josephs, West View Primary School and St John The Evangelist Catholic.

Sadly, the event couldn’t be more needed in the region.

“The grim reality is that the North East has the highest rate of suicide in the UK,” added Catherine, citing Office of National Statistics data.

“As a region, we need to do everything we can to save lives as these actions can have a devastating impact on so many people.

“Each suicide can send shockwaves through a community, and impact everyone from friends and family to the first responders called to the scene, so our hope with Turn Blue Monday Bright is that it can help in starting to at least turn the tide.”

The charity helps those affected by suicide, who statistically, are at a greater risk of taking their own lives following such a tragedy.

It offers one-to-one therapeutic support to help those impacted by suicide work through their grief, while their Headlight Hubs, a six-week bereavement group programme, allow them to meet others who have experienced similar trauma.

The aim is to make them feel less isolated and lonely, whilst giving them peer support.

Caswell’s is sponsoring the 2024 campaign for the second year running, providing 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: “The fantastic services provided by The Headlight Project are unfortunately required more each year.

“Raising awareness and preventing suicide and the devastating effects that come with it is no easy task to take on.

“Having the skills of this team on hand to offer these services in our Teesside community is just amazing. Needless to say, Caswells are proud to support such an incredible charity.”

To get involved with 2024’s Turn Blue Monday Bright campaign, email Lucia@headlightproject.org and visit the campaign page at https://www.headlightproject.org/get-involved/turn-blue-monday-bright/