Emma O'Hare

Emma first showed symptoms of depression when she was eight years old. Ever vigilant, her parents took the necessary steps to get her the appropriate help. As the years went by, Emma began to feel increasingly different from her peers and despite participating in regular therapy, Emma had trouble understanding why she did not share their interests in sports, school or having fun with friends. Although she was undergoing therapy, Emma wasn’t seeing meaningful results and she did not feel she was getting any better. Emma’s parents made a concerted effort to encourage open dialogue regarding mental health in their home and were proactive when it came to the health of their four daughters. At age 12, Emma finally wrote a long letter to her parents—a heartfelt plea. She told them about her deepest feelings, described her hopelessness, and shared her inability to see past her illness. Emma’s parents made it clear that she should not feel any shame about her own situation. Being this honest with her parents, and more importantly, being honest with herself, was the first major step towards recovering her mental health. Upon entering high school, Emma decided to gradually share her story. Emma learned that there were many individuals, regardless of circumstance, that experienced similar feelings of depression and hopelessness.

Emma is cognizant of her circumstance and feels blessed to have a strong support system. She advocates for more accessible mental health resources. Emma hopes that by talking openly about her depression, it will encourage people to be more receptive when it comes to mental health issues. She hopes to help young people find the courage to talk so that they don’t have to suffer in silence.

Today, Emma is a healthy 22 year-old student at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and will be awarded her Bachelor’s degree with a major in Health Studies in the Spring of 2021. She now looks forward to the future.

Over the years, Emma has continued to take medication to treat her depression and attends therapy on a regular basis. Emma admits that her journey has not been without trials and tribulations. However, it has also led her to many moments of happiness and success. Emma proudly admits that her journey with mental health is a large part of the person she has grown to be, and she would be remiss if she didn’t acknowledge the role of her friend’s, and family’s love, support and encouragement played in her journey to good health. Throughout the years, people of all ages have contacted Emma to talk about their mental illness, asking for advice. Emma stresses the importance of not giving up hope. Celebrate the small victories, even if it means finding just enough strength to brush your hair that day. It was those “small victories” that have gotten her through the darkest of days.