It took 17 years for me to get to the stage of being able to talk about my journey through depression.

As with any mental illness, it has not been an easy journey.  My first memorable experience of depression was when I was 11 and it was the start of a chronic disease that by 2000, had me preparing to commit suicide.

With help and support from my family, friends, the NHS and a great therapist, I now live a life that for many decades, I could not have dreamt possible.

Today, I talk openly about my journey and how my daily freediving training further maintains my positive mental health.

These wellness activities helped me to achieve 5th place overall at the AIDA Freediving Individual Depth World Championships in 2017 and then 4th in 2019.   There is more to come!


March 2019 – Keynote Speaker at Pink Petro’s HerWorld 2019 Event

“Helena’s unforgettable speech at Pink Petro’s International Women’s Day event in London was one to remember. As the MC of the event, I told the audience that they would not have heard anything like Helena’s story before… and how right I was!

She shared her compelling story in an articulate, poignant, compulsive yet funny way which had the large audience gripped. Whether it was revealing her life-long mental struggle with depression and anxiety or depicting what happens during one of her championship freedive’s, Helena had the crowd in her hand and you could hear a pin drop. What a fantastic person and an even better story!”

December 2018 for the Sixth Form @ Downe House School

“What a great pleasure to have Helena back at Downe House to share her fantastic story.

Helena gave an incredibly inspiring talk on her journey from mental illness to full recovery and acclaimed success, making even the darkest hour a precious moment in the build-up of the accomplished, compassionate, empathic individual she is.

It was a tremendous opportunity for our girls to experience the power of resilience and enjoy at the same time, the breath-taking pictures of Helena’s dives!

Thank you, Helena”

March 2018 @ The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

“Helena’s talk was  unforgettable and thought provoking . She showed  that  we can all overcome really difficult moments in our own  personal or business life when we can share our experiences and are willing to help and support  each other.

People are at the very heart of all high performing teams whether it is an international freediving competition  or running a construction business.  We need both oxygen and cash to keep us all healthy.”

Headline: Commercial graduates get together to understand the deal

Standfirst: Over 50 commercial graduates were joined by Amanda Clack, past president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and international freediver Helena Bourdillon at a laser focused networking event.

The event took place at the RICS building in London where the graduates were set tasks around understanding contract administration as well as how to increase productivity for high performance. They were also joined by two guests, Amanda Clack, past president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and international freediver, Helena Bourdillon, who shared their experiences as role models in their fields and the challenges they have experienced, which were crucial to their success.

Sponsor of the event Keith Jones, Head of Commercial Services, said: “The event brought together all of Skanska’s commercial graduates and gave them the opportunity to work together and to be consistent in the way contract administration is approached at Skanska.

Helena Bourdillon is a Great Britain freediver and she made a fantastic link about being in the zone to be able to perform at your best, and this aligns perfectly to the behaviours needed to deliver Skanska’s laser focus plan. She also spoke of overcoming her mental health issues by channeling her mind into freediving so it is no longer a chronic disease.

Immediate past president, Amanda Clack, also gave some insight into how the industry will change to meet the demands of the future, particularly around population growth, and how working towards a RICS qualification could help them prepare.

March 2018 @ The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

“Helena managed to tackle and present the difficult topic of mental health really well.  Generally, people do not like to talk about mental health, however she managed to make it less of a “taboo” by making the talk relevant to the audience and at the same time including occupation and personal history.  I have seen a few presentations on mental health and well-being and none of them had as many questions afterwards which shows that she developed a genuine interest in the subject matter.

The afternoon “breathing exercises” were a really good way to focus everyone after lunch and everyone seemed to have fun as well.  Learning to do something as basic as breathing properly could benefit some of the attendees in the long run as well.”

March 2018 @ The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

“Very interesting to have a guest speaker talk about real life experiences outside of the construction industry but with related content”


Mulberry Freedivers, Selsey, September 2017

“It was our immense pleasure to have Helena talk at the launch of Mulberry Freedivers.

I am not sure what I expected but I was blown away by an honest, frank yet often entertaining account of how freediving helped change and continues to help her on a personal level.

Great imagery and explanation of the sport and a true inspiration for what it is possible to achieve even in a person’s darkest hour!

I came away inspired and many of the club members have since spoken to me about how Helena has inspired them and to reach for their dreams.”




In a society where 1 in 4 people will suffer from some sort mental health problem each year and a cost to UK business of £99bn in 2017, we can no longer afford to ignore mental health issues or continue to allow the stigma to prevail.

My story is one of survival and triumph which I combine with the knowledge and experiences I have gained over the years: from running my own jewellery and accessory business for 13 years to working in the telecoms industry as an account manager and a technical engineer.  Alongside these and the skills I have gained from freediving, I am able to adapt my speaking to also incorporate appropriate business messages such as shareholder value, deadline importance, consistency, sustainability, safety etc.


Social Media has been shown to promote anxiety and low self-esteem in teenagers which if not addressed, can lead to mental illness and possible suicide.

Talking in schools (to GCSE and A Level students) I tell my story of chronic depression and how I went from being on the verge of suicide to where I am today, demonstrating that mental illness does not have to be a life sentance and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

While talking about freediving, with my passion and drive to see what I am capable of achieving, I encourage students to further their belief in themselves so they are able to take more control and responsibility for their own destinies, helping them to achieve their full potential.

I also demonstrate breathing exercises that can help students to relax when stressed and improve their focus.

If you are interested in having me talk to your business, school, club or society, please contact me to discuss your requirements.


Copyright © 2024 HMB Group Ltd  |  All rights reserved
About  |  Contact  Cookies Disclaimer  |  Privacy  |  T&Cs