Former St. Paul’s residence don and alumnus Scott Ste Marie (BES ’13) is the host of the YouTube channel and website Depression to Expression, which explores the causes of depression and anxiety and provides proven techniques to overcome symptoms. Drawing upon his own struggles, Scott provides viewers with proven tools to combat their mental illness and provide a community of support.

Scott first experienced depression and extreme anxiety while in his first year at the University of Waterloo. During recovery, he found himself learning about mental health and taking charge of his own wellbeing.

Alumni Relations caught up with Scott to ask him more about his website and life after Waterloo.

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Depression to Expression has a wealth of resources on the topic of overcoming mental illness including videos, a blog, and an e-book. Can you tell us more about the site and what you hope to achieve?

Depression to Expression is an online community, mostly through YouTube, where I create videos about depression and anxiety. There are over 400 videos on the channel which range from the causes of depression, how to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, anxiety reduction techniques and how to genuinely express emotions in the most productive way possible. Depression to Expression has been in existence for four years, however, I’m only getting started when it comes to new video content, developing a new website, live events, guests (psychologists, neuroscientists, social workers and more). All I wanted to do is help one person through a difficult time and it seems that continues to be achieved. Since people find these videos helpful I am simply looking to increase overall reach and let people know they are not fighting this battle alone.

How does it make you feel to post stories about your personal struggles and experiences with mental illness to share with your viewers?

It was really a no brainer to share my story. My struggles have given me new perspectives on mental illness and what I value as a human being. I’ve done my best to use it as a strength, which has honestly taken quite some time. However, once I had taken all I could from my own story, it was time to tell others. Suffering holds more purpose when it is shared so others can feel less isolated and alone during theirs. My experiences are nothing unique which is why it has to be told! My story of depression and anxiety resonates with many so it seemed selfish not to share this with the world.

Your struggles started during your time at university. Do you think your website would be a good resource for students experiencing similar struggles now?

Of course, I have to say yes! The reason I started Depression to Expression is because when I was in first year and I looked for motivation for depression, specifically from a male, I couldn’t find anything. I wanted students to have a down-to-earth resource for when they are in pretty painful situations. Some of the videos have profanity and yelling, others are meditative and relaxing with a calmer approach to motivate and educate. I want to provide as much content as I can in order to suit everyone’s needs. I’m sure they will be able to find something of value on Depression to Expression.

What do you think the most important course of action is for someone setting out to battle mental illness?

Everyone has heard this before and I hate to say it, but you need to reach out and talk to someone. For someone in pain right now this makes absolutely no sense because why would talking to someone who has no idea what I’m going through help me with anything? Well to be honest, I’m not quite sure how it works, but it does. When you open yourself up to someone you take the burden from your shoulders and set it free for the time being. People who are great listeners and truly want to help you, will help carry that burden for you as long as necessary. You will also talk to people who aren’t willing to listen, and that’s okay. Fighting through any kind of mood disorder is the perfect catalyst to find some of the best human beings on earth.

Do you think there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness resulting in people who suffer from feeling isolated? What do you think are some ways we can help to break that stigma?

There is stigma, and there always will be. Fat shaming still exists, racism still exists and people are uncomfortable speaking out about all sorts of personal issues and illnesses. Stigma will continue to surround mental illness even as we begin to discover more about the causes and treatments (we are getting there!). As difficult as it is, one cannot wait until 100% of the public are in your corner and supporting your recovery. Many people will not understand, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is you know that you deserve happiness and hold just as much value as someone without a mental illness. The right people will support you no matter how much stigma you face. The best way to reduce stigma is to get help. Know you are worth it, forget the haters and march on!

What is next for Depression to Expression?

The Depression to Expression website is in need of a serious makeover. I will also be interviewing mental health professionals on the channel as well as collaborating with other mental health YouTubers from all over the world.

At this moment, I am just so happy that people are continuing to discover these videos and willing to help others online and share their story. Doing my best to improve myself and the lives of others one video at a time.