Feeling Blue?

Behind all this talk about "Blue Monday" or "January Blues", many people we meet at the Jesus Centre are struggling with mental health problems.

Did you know that today has been dubbed as “Blue Monday”? Apparently, the third Monday in January could be the most depressing day of the year for most people, due to a combination of cold weather, debt level, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.

Some people have dismissed this claim as “pseudoscience”, but it doesn’t take a scientist to realise that January has the potential to be quite a low point for a lot of people. Who doesn’t feel a little gloomy when the Christmas lights have all vanished and the temperature drops?

We all have our “blue Mondays”; in fact, every day can be a struggle for the 1 in 4 of us in the UK who struggle with mental health problems. For people who are experiencing homelessness, refugees or asylum-seekers, this is particularly prevalent.

Here are some statistics from the Mental Health Foundation website:

  • In 2014, 80% of homeless people in England reported that they had mental health issues, with 45% having been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
  • Studies have reported a higher prevalence of mental health problems in the homeless population in comparison to the general population, including major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Statistics suggest the prevalence of mental health conditions in this population to be at least 25–30% of the street homeless and those in direct access hostels.
  • Asylum seekers and refugees are more likely to experience poor mental health than the local population, including higher rates of depression, PTSD and other anxiety disorders.
  • The increased vulnerability to mental health problems that refugees and asylum seekers face is linked to pre-migration experiences (such as war trauma) and post-migration conditions (such as separation from family, difficulties with asylum procedures and poor housing).
  • Research suggests that asylum seekers are five times more likely to have mental health needs than the general population and more than 61% will experience serious mental distress. However, data shows that they are less likely to receive support than the general population.

At the London Jesus Centre, we aim to do what we can to meet peoples’ basic needs (e.g. food, clothing, showers, toiletries) and to help them live a better quality of life. We point people towards the right services, as well as being a listening ear when it’s needed, and being a refuge when life feels too overwhelming.

“I finally met someone who would listen to my story and was patient with me.”

Merton, 50 years old, said this about his time at the Jesus Centre: “For many different reasons my experience in London has been painful and I would describe it as hell on earth. Things turned around when I came to the Jesus Centre. I finally met someone who would listen to my story and was patient with me. Through their RoadMap Project, they were able to help me with accommodation and to return home to Germany and start life over again.”

On this supposedly “Blue Monday”, why not find time to be a listening ear to someone who might really need it? If you would like to support us at the Jesus Centre, as we seek to help more people like Merton, why not set up a regular donation or look into volunteering?

Published 21st January 2019 with tags: asylum seekers homelessness mental health refugees

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