High-profile entrepreneur’s battle with depression

A quarter of British adults will experience some mental health problem in the course of a year. Read here about one of the North West’s most high-profile entrepreneurs and his battle with depression.

Here’s an article posted on Insider Media Limited website

One of the North West’s most high-profile entrepreneurs has spoken about his battle with depression in a bid to raise awareness about mental health.

Vikas Shah is the managing director of Swiscot Group and visiting professor of entrepreneurship with MIT Sloan and told Insider’s DNA of an Entrepreneurship breakfast he’d also made a number of “half-baked” attempts on his life before seeking help. The 34-year-old said his problems were at their worst in his early to mid-20s.

“You get anxious and that triggers depression and then you get more anxious,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle. The problem is I didn’t identify it. I thought it was normal.

“It I’m honest I probably started suffering depression from my late teens but I didn’t know what it was. I thought I was a bit low.

“In my early to mid-20s I’d come to work with a game face on. You’ve got a job to do but you go home and the dark clouds stay with you.”

Shah believes the attempts on his life were a cry for help rather than anything more serious. “I’m sure somebody who wants to kill themselves will do it,” he said. “A half-baked attempt is more of a cry for help.

“At the time you’re scared of having those thoughts but eventually you realise you have to do something about it.”

Shah said he was speaking out now to encourage anybody else suffering symptoms not to suffer in silence. “Dear friends of mine have taken their own life,” he said. “I went to get help in my mid to late 20s and I was lucky enough to be able to afford a private doctor.

“If you’re anxious you need to be able to know how to deal with it. I now have medication and I’m doing good. A good analogy is somebody who loses a loved one. I don’t profess to be an expert but you learn to live with it.

“I’m talking now because I feel able to and I think we need to have a conversation about mental health. There shouldn’t be a stigma around it.

“America is much more open it. Most CEOs in America that I know have a therapist and take medication. My advice to other people is to talk about it. There’s no reason to feel like you’re on your own.”

Last week Lord Alliance, one of the region’s most successful businessmen, revealed how depression had plagued his career.

Vikas Shah’s decision to speak out has won the support of several senior business people.

Multiple non-executive director Vanda Murray told Insider: “I believe mental illness is a serious problem in business. More so because people are ashamed of it and therefore do not talk about it. It is often hidden – or at least people try to hide it.

“But mental illness affects many people at different times in their lives and just like physical illness, it can be treated successfully with the right help and support.

“I myself suffered from post natal depression after the birth of my son. It was a difficult time but I got through it with help. Afterwards, it enabled me to spot the signs in other people and in the years since, I’ve been able to encourage other people to get the help they need.

“We need to talk about mental illness. We need to remove the taboo – for everyone’s sake.”

Phil Jones, managing director of Brother UK, said: “It’s estimated that in the UK, 15.2 million days of sickness absence were mental health related with the cost to business being £26bn or £1,035 per employee to deal with.

“This whole area should not be a taboo and should be viewed with the same priority as any illness. I’ve seen first-hand how people have different levels of coping mechanism and – if you want true high performance in a workplace – you have to treat mental health seriously.”

Original article http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/north-west/133083-vikas-shah-speaks-battle-depression?utm_source=northwest_newsletter&utm_medium=business_article&utm_campaign=northwest_news_tracker