[Marxism] From Bloomberg ... Bankers Use Secret Clinics, Nurses to Beat Breakdowns

Steve Palmer spalmer999 at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 11 09:00:17 MDT 2008


Bankers Use Secret Clinics, Nurses to Beat Breakdowns (Update1)

By Thomas Penny
More Photos/Details

July 11 (Bloomberg) -- On a private island 20 minutes by helicopter from
central London, a hovercraft sits on the lawn of a turreted Edwardian manor
house as swallows swoop around.

Trees and wildflowers line a lane that leads to a cluster of buildings that
house a pool table, a 12-seat movie theater and an art studio. A yacht is
moored nearby.

The island isn't a country hideaway. It's the Causeway Retreat, a mental health
and addiction center that charges as much as 10,000 pounds ($20,000) a week for
treatment away from the prying eyes of colleagues and the media. There is a
waiting list for the facility's 15 rooms.

``We get lots of CEOs of companies, traders, high-end business guys,'' says
Managing Director Brendan Quinn. ``They want treatment, but they want it to be
discreet.''

Financial services firms in the U.K. are trying to break the stigma of mental
illness as the number of people seeking help increases. JPMorgan Cazenove Ltd.
and Herbert Smith LLP sponsored a conference yesterday where employers were
urged to do more to help workers with psychological problems and recognize they
can still be productive.

Mental health is a growing concern as the credit crunch adds to stress in the
City of London, the U.K. capital's financial district. The number of men in the
City who sought help for depression and stress rose 47 percent from a year
earlier in the past three months, according to British United Provident
Association Ltd., the U.K.'s largest private health insurer.

Busy Summer

About 40,000 people in the U.K. financial industry will lose their jobs during
the next three years, according to Experian Group Ltd, with London bearing the
brunt.

``I'm getting three times as many referrals as I was a year ago, particularly
from the corporate sector, and a lot of that's related to the financial
crisis,'' says Bennedict Cannon, a London psychotherapist. ``This has been the
busiest early summer I've known in 10 years.''

Don Serratt, chief executive officer of Lifeworks, a private treatment facility
set in the countryside at Old Woking, southwest of London, says he saw a 20
percent increase in admissions of City workers in the first six months of the
year compared with the same period in 2007.

``What happens in these environments becomes so unbearable when times are bad
because everyone's really frightened that they're next and they're going to
lose their job,'' says Serratt, who was the London-based head of European
mergers and acquisitions for Creditanstalt Bank until 1998. He quit after a
battle with addictions and severe clinical depression, which he says were
exacerbated by the City's environment.

Unhappiness Index

Even in a world of six-figure salaries, bankers report an atmosphere of
unhappiness.

Fifty-eight percent of people working in banking and finance say they have seen
someone cry as a result of stress at work, according to an nfpSynergy report
for the Samaritans, a confidential help line that fields more than 13,000 calls
daily, 20 percent from suicidal people.

The industry was recently ranked last in the City & Guilds Happiness Index,
based on a survey of 2,000 people in 20 professions. Beauty therapists were
first.

``The whole culture of ensuring the stress is dealt with appropriately is
missing from the City,'' says Sean Kelly, London outreach coordinator for the
Samaritans. ``The very idea that you could be marked as weak shows what a
hostile environment it is.''

At any given time, one in six employees in Britain will be affected by
``depression, anxiety or another mental health condition to a clinically
diagnosable degree,'' according to a study by the London-based Sainsbury Centre
for Mental Health.

Remaining Productive

At yesterday's conference, Dennis Stevenson, chairman of HBOS Plc, Britain's
biggest mortgage lender, said his 20-year battle with depression showed it is
possible to suffer from mental health problems and have a successful career.

Stevenson, 62, said being in the ``trough'' of endogenous depression, caused by
a chemical imbalance rather than stress, was worse than the pain he felt when
he broke his leg skiing and the paramedics shut the ambulance door on the limb.

``It's by a long way the worst experience I've had in my life, but I managed to
keep working,'' he told an audience of 150, including representatives of Credit
Suisse Group, Linklaters LLP and Lloyds TSB Group Plc. ``It's the
responsibility of the people at the top of businesses to create a culture and
an environment in which people know they can be open without damaging their
career.''

`Macho' Culture

Mike McPhillips, a London psychiatrist whose client list includes CEOs, company
chairmen and their families, says denial about mental health problems is rife
in Britain, particularly in the ``macho'' atmosphere of the financial industry.

``English people are very much slower by and large to accept they are suffering
with a psychological problem,'' McPhillips says. ``People come along way too
late when there's a lot of damage already done to them, their families, to
their relationships and to their children.''

Jonathan Naess, who organized the conference, set up Stand to Reason, a charity
that aims to break the taboo of discussing mental health problems, after he
returned to work as an equity partner for Nabarro Wells & Co. following a
breakdown.

He had left his London office one afternoon for a coffee, and less than an hour
later was restrained by six police officers who took him to a psychiatric
hospital. A shop clerk who was alarmed at his erratic behavior had called the
police.

``I was terrified and thought I'd walked into `One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
Nest,''' said Naess, 40, who asked that the date of the episode not be
revealed. ``Then the penny dropped. It was the best place for me to be.''

Returning to Work

His colleagues helped him return to work gradually, starting with light duties,
after he had been treated for bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression.
He was soon earning more for the company than before his breakdown.

There's a growing industry to help professionals get the assistance they need
while remaining on the job, with more treatment being offered at evenings and
weekends.

``It is an increasing trend that people are not wanting their mental health
problems to interfere with their work,'' says John Wilkins, a psychiatrist at
the Priory Hospital, Roehampton, a 107-bed private psychiatric hospital in
southwest London.

Although executives have to confront the truth about their illness, doctors at
the Causeway encourage them to decide for themselves how much their colleagues
and employers need to know about their condition, giving them the option to
pretend they are merely conducting business while on vacation.

Board Meeting at Clinic

If someone needs to go to London for a meeting, a nurse can be dressed in a
suit, given a file and made to look like a business associate, Quinn says.

In the book-lined billiard room of the manor house, Quinn recalls the day one
of Britain's 100-largest publicly traded companies held a board meeting there
because a member was a patient. Everything was arranged so there was no hint
why he was there, Quinn says.

``We had four helicopters on the lawn, put a sheet of timber over the billiard
table, laid out a meal and had 14 people sitting down for a meeting,'' he says.
``I don't think somebody has to go and tell the world about a problem if they
don't want to.'' He declined to name the company.

In addition to group and individual therapy and, where necessary, treatment
using the island's fully stocked pharmacy, patients are encouraged to exercise
and take up long-neglected hobbies. One man spent a month stripping a motorbike
and rebuilding it, which he'd wanted to do since he was a teenager, Quinn says.

Outside a former candy store that is now used for group therapy, a
silver-haired client passes by on a bicycle. Quinn says he's a top executive at
a publicly traded company.

``The whole idea of this place is we try to teach people there's a life outside
of work,'' Quinn says. ``When did he last cycle down a country lane without his
BlackBerry going off?'' 

"I study a lot. That is one of the responsibilities of every revolutionary." Hugo Chavez.


      




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