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67. The Nuance of Mental Health

Today’s episode is with Vikas Shah MBE, a serial-entrepreneur and philanthropist, having started his first technology business at age 14 and currently CEO of Swiscot Group.

Talking around his own experiences with mental health, how the discussion around mental health isn’t nuanced enough for such a complicated topic and the differences in the approach to public health issues versus access to mental health treatment.

Also discussed:

(02:03) Introduction to Vikas

(3:17) Vikas’ experience with speaking about his mental health, how it linked to entrepreneurship, his TedX talk and the impact it has had on people, how mental health can become a defining part of your journey

(9:57) ‘The victim narrative’, and how it isn’t productive and how it can be self-perpetuating, how the discussions have changed and evolved, speakers versus advocates/activists, being critical in our approach to mental health

(18:17) The importance of story-telling in combination with vital information, how public health topics such as cancer are approached in a very linear way in terms of accessing treatment and help in comparison to the complications of mental health, being seen as a social issue rather than a health one

(23:35) The language around mental health and how it can be too aggressive or disempowering, suicide ideation and the challenges around it, demystifying suicide and the long-lasting impact of failed suicide attempts

(32:31) How suicide ideation can seem like self-care in a way, the outdated perception of mental health issues only occurring after a huge event in all cases, how we might not have the language to speak of mental health which can contribute to the taboo

(39:12) The absence of nuance around mental health discussions, how we build resilience through mental health issues

(43:01) Vikas’s thoughts after his suicide attempt and the changes he felt he needed to make afterwards, early intervention versus treatment and demystifying medication

(48:10) Therapy and therapists and how it varies person to person, how the approach to mental health isn’t clear enough in terms of what we can and can’t do and ask, approaching topics from a health perspective rather than avoiding the topic

(58:55) How we’re bad at admitting when we’re wrong and how we struggle to say things in an appropriate manner with sensitive topics with nuance, the narrative needing changing and how we need a better approach to such a complicated issue

(01:07:33) Tick-boxing and a one size fits all approach, tokenism in mental health, how the last thing you want to do is speak to someone but it’s one of the only options you have, the lack of support into mental health services

(1:12:50) Closing comments – how we can become better at managing our mental health and how we can take action

Vikas’s LinkedIn:

Vikas’s Website:


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Dark Coffee starts brave and bullshit-free conversations around mental health, wellbeing and business.

Join wellbeing advocate Alice Lyons as she attempts to normalise the conversation around mental health, from suicide to satisfaction and everything in between.

Dark Coffee aims to create a safe space to explore dark topics with curiosity and compassion.

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Podcast presented and edited by Alice Lyons.

Music Credit: ‘Infinite Landscape’ by Corinne.


Suicide and Emotional Support Organisations – UK

Samaritans: Confidential suicide discussion and emotional support. Free helpline available round the clock. Text – 116123.  Call – 08457 909090  Email – Website –

Mind: Support and information for anyone suffering from a mental health issue. 0300 123 3393 Website –

Saneline: Practical information, crisis care and emotional support to people affected by mental health concerns. Helpline: 0845 767 8000, open daily from 6pm – 11pm.

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