My name is Jonathan de Lance-Holmes and I work for Linklaters LLP as a partner in the Investment Management Group. I have been working for Linklaters LLP for some time. I am married with two children and enjoy going to the theatre, learning different musical instruments, cycling and photography. I ride motorcycles and currently own a BMW R1200RT.
Twenty years ago I began to experience panic attacks and anxiety while I was working abroad in the Moscow office. This led to a fairly dramatic "burn-out": I collapsed in the office mid-deal, suffering from exhaustion. I then experienced an extended period of depression, caused by stress, and I was away from work for several months. Since then I have experienced several periods of heightened stress, but what is different now is that I can spot the signs, and I am much more aware of how to look after my mental health.
Over the years I have received tremendous support from my girlfriend, who is now my wife, as well as one partner in Linklaters in particular. They supported me and kept me in the practice, but ignorance and perhaps well-meant, but inaccurate, assumptions about my condition on the part of others were not helpful. Many people assume that those who experience stress, depression and anxiety will want to move into less stressful jobs, but this wasn't the case for me: my experience forced me to reflect on what was truly important, and I realised that my work was something I enjoyed and ultimately wanted to continue doing.
I feel that my own experience could have been avoided if I, and those around me, had been better educated to spot the signs. This was a long time ago, and the firm is doing much more to address mental health, but the stigma surrounding it means that people are still reluctant to share their stories. I'm speaking out because I think that greater knowledge will better equip us all to look after our own mental health, and that of others. Nobody would think twice about talking about a broken leg, but there is not that same openness about mental health or other hidden disabilities.
I would urge people who are experiencing difficulties not to be afraid to seek support, and to let the right people know. The support available at, and through, Linklaters has been, and is, fantastic, and this level of support can really make a difference to people. I appreciate that it is still difficult for many people to talk about their mental health, but I believe that we are now in a process of de-stigmatisation which will allow more people to be open in the future.
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