Blue Monday impacts on children and young people as much as adults
Loneliness affects people of all ages. And ‘Blue Monday’ is said to be the loneliest day of them all.
For children, loneliness can be very difficult to tackle. They might feel lonely at school, but they have to keep going. The might feel lonely at home, but they don’t want to bother their busy parents. And they may even feel lonely online, but they want to stay connected on social media.
There were 5,000 Childline counselling sessions with young people over the last year who told us that they felt desperately lonely, a 12 per cent increase compared with the year before.
The typical ‘hang in there’ attitude to Monday morning doesn’t just apply to adults, but to children, too. Especially when a child is a victim of bullying, the thought of getting up and going to a place where they feel alone and targeted can be terrifying.
For some children and young people, the Monday blues isn’t because of meetings or commutes, but because of a genuine fear of being physically and verbally abused in a place where they should feel safe. One girl told Childline:
“I get spat at, my clothes pulled and told I don’t belong around here. I get told to go rot in hell and I have tried so hard to ignore it, but it’s hard. I feel lonely and like I don’t fit in. I feel like an outcast and I don’t belong anywhere”
Having suffered this kind of bullying all day, it’s normal for a child or young person to come home and want to talk to their parents. It may be to disclose the bullying, or even just to feel loved and wanted following a tough day at school.
However, some parents and carers will have had a blue Monday of their own. This may mean they are stressed, working, or resting and not available to sit and talk to their child. The busy nature of everyday life means we don’t always take the time to sit and talk to the children in our lives. One boy told us:
“Nobody likes me and my family are always at work so I'm constantly in my bedroom. I feel so alone.”
When left alone, many young people turn to social media. Social media opens a huge amount of opportunities for young people to connect with their peers via a host of different social platforms, but it’s easy to see how this online connection can lead to young people feeling even more isolated.
The rise of FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, has led to social media becoming an unhealthy obsession. Instead of using it to communicate, many young people use social media to compare themselves to others. Followers, likes, and stories all add up to determine whether someone is ‘popular’. This can have a damaging effect on a young person. One teenager told us:
“I constantly end up checking snapchat if someone’s having a party and I’m not there and it really upsets me because I then don’t know if they don’t like me or I’m not cool enough to hang with them”
The impact of this goes far beyond ‘Blue Monday’, because any day like this for a child or young person is going to be blue. But there is something we can do.
We want to be there so that no child faces these problems alone. Unfortunately, one in three calls to Childline will go unanswered. Just £4 means that one of our specially-trained counsellors can answer another child or young person when they feel isolated. So you can make a difference – and help ensure we are there for children every day, not just Blue Monday.