How the loss of her dad led PwC Canada’s Emmy to mental health advocacy

Content warning: This story includes references to mental health disorders and a mention of suicide. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or experiencing distress, text or call Canada’s Suicide Crisis Hotline at 9-8-8. 

Taking care of my mental health has always been important to me. I grew up in a family that put a lot of emphasis on open communication, support and love when it came to mental health and mental illness. My dad lived with bipolar disorder, and my parents educated my sister and me about my dad’s illness throughout our childhood. 

It formed the basis of a very deep relationship with him and shaped my life experience, teaching me the value of investing in your mental health just as we do in our physical health.

But even though the topic of mental health was destigmatized within our family, it wasn’t outside of the walls of our home. When I was 15, I lost my father to suicide. This devastating and heartbreaking reality impacted me in many ways, and my grief included the extra challenge of stigma around mental health.

This catapulted me to where I am today—an advocate for mental health care and the destigmatization of mental illness, helping people seek the help they need and making sure no one feels defined by what they go through. I had an amazing relationship with my dad, who was one of the most vibrant, loving and generous people I’ve ever known, and I hated the idea of his memory being tainted by misconceptions and misunderstanding. 

Towards the end of my time in high school, my mom and I started an initiative with the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, creating an educational program with psychiatrists who visited high schools across the city. The goal was to raise awareness about mental health with young adolescents, and the initiative ran for three years. Since joining PwC Canada, I’ve been involved with our internal Disability Awareness and Wellbeing Network. This is my third Mental Health Week with the firm, and I’ve loved having the opportunity to help facilitate these types of conversations in the workplace. It also just so happens the start of this year’s Mental Health Week, May 6, would have been my dad’s 60th birthday. 

Despite going through something extremely difficult, I’ve been privileged to be able to access resources, space and support from loved ones to do what I need to do to heal. Personally, I’ve found therapy to be a wonderful tool in my healing journey. I use it to work through my grief, as well as get to know more about myself and how the mind works. Ultimately, I want others to know mental health support is there if you need it, and you are not alone. 

In today’s world, there are many ways you can look for help or connect with others.

Emmy has been with the firm for two years and is a senior associate in Consulting. She’s also an executive member of PwC Canada’s Disability Awareness and Wellbeing Network.

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