Ian Collins is Leading Britain's Conversation.
9 May 2017, 18:52
John Binns suffered from mental health problems when he was at the consultancy firm Deloitte. He shared with Iain Dale how he recovered and gave his advice for others in a similar position.
John was a senior partner with the multinational firm when he was struck with mental health problems in 2007. It led to him taking time off work.
In 2001 John was enjoying a high-flying career as a senior partner and thought mental health was something that affected other people. Six years later he was desperately trying to email someone to tell them he couldn't face work anymore.
John says that issues with his marriage coincided with big changes at work to bring on the episode. He says the interplay between major personal change and professional pressure is a common cause of mental health problems for professionals.
He says the reluctance to talk about mental health has created a stigma around it. "What has become very clear to me is that one thing this is not about it weakness."
"Often it's... people who other want to have in their team. People who care about things, people who take responsibility, people who give a lot to relationships, who actually often find themselves vulnerable.
"These risk factors are associated with things that make people very good at their job."
John was off work for three months and thought his career would never recover in such a high pressure industry. But when he went back to work he was given support and “spent eight years being equally successful in an equally pressurised environment as a partner in Deloitte. I was actually happier, which was interesting.”
In spite of his good experience of recovering, John said at the time there was no culture of talking about mental health, something that he has worked hard to change.
He now runs mental health awareness campaigns and support programmes in the City of London through the City Mental Health Alliance, working to help people spot the early signs of mental health problems and get support to deal with them.
John says the keys improving mental health support is for company leadership to send a message that "this is not about weakness" and that people have a range of options when they find they need help.