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Opal Jenna O’Hea opens up on her battles with mental health

Southside Flyer and Australian Opal Jenna O’Hea has bravely revealed how she is battling daily with mental health.

On the eve of the Flyers’ Lifeline Round this Saturday, the 34-year-old, who captained Australia at the Tokyo Olympics, has spoken for the first time since stepping away from WNBL and national league duty this year to take care of herself.

“Those close to me know I’ve been struggling since the Olympics and it continues to be a work in progress. It’s not easy to admit that you’re not OK, which is why this round is so important,” she said.

“I’ve always been the strong one, the resilient one, but the strongest thing I’ve done is admit I need help.

“I’m around my teammates again and you may see me laughing and playing again but I’m battling every day. I have good days, I have bad days, I have good hours and bad hours.

Jenna O’Hea has opened up on her mental health struggles.
Camera IconJenna O’Hea has opened up on her mental health struggles. Credit: Supplied

“Mental health is so misunderstood and even as an advocate I’ve been struggling to navigate how I’m feeling and what is best for me.

“I wanted to speak ahead of this important round and appreciate the respect of my privacy which has been shown as I continue to work through this.”

A Lifeline Community Custodian, O’Hea says professional help and the support of family and close friends have been crucial.

“The Flyers organisation and all my teammates have been amazing in supporting me and I can’t thank them enough for their kindness and understanding.

“Remember, you have no idea what someone is going through so always be kind.

“Reach out to your friends and family. Tell your loved ones how much you love and care for them.”

BBall Aus V USA Women OLY
Camera IconJenna O’Hea in action while playing for the Opals. Adam Head Credit: News Corp Australia

O’Hea initiated a league-wide Lifeline Round three years ago after her uncle Fergus took his own life.

She thanked her club and teammates, the Players’ Association and players around the league for their support of this weekend’s initiative.

Flyer Aimie Rocci has shown great leadership and friendship in driving the cause while O’Hea has taken time away.

Lifeline

‘YOU KNOW WE NEED YOU TO GET 20 TOMORROW’

Sharin Milner was averaging four points a game when legendary coach Tom Maher made a big statement on the eve of the 2010/11 Grand Final.

With teen star Liz Cambage about to cop the close attention of Canberra, Maher told his veteran point guard she would be the key to Bulleen Boomers’ first championship.

“Tom said ‘You know we need you to get 20 tomorrow if we’re going to win?’” Milner recalled ahead of the Boomers championship reunion at this Sunday’s game against Bendigo.

In her final game, she sunk a game-high 27 points to lead Bulleen to a 103-78 victory in front of a packed house at Parkville.

“I subbed off with a minute to go and remember looking around and seeing so many loved ones and former Boomers. It was so special.”

2010-11 champions Desi Glaubitz, Sharin Milner, Shelley Hammonds, Anna Crosswhite, Kylie Reid, Liz Cambage, Jenna O’Hea, Rachel Jarry, Alice Kunek, Hanna Zavecz, Elyse Penaluna, Amelia Todhunter

3 Pointers with Townsville and WNBA star Monique Billings

1: I’ve played in China, South Korea, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Russia, Israel and Turkey. Outside of the WNBA, Australia is the first English-speaking country I’ve played in.

2: I’m a foodie, I love cooking. I eat at half time. If we’re on the road, I’ll have a breakfast burrito and save some for half time. If it’s a home game, I’ll cook potatoes and oatmeal and bring that to the game. Anywhere I play, everyone laughs at me.

3: I call myself the self-care queen. I’m big on recovery, health, wellness and being the best version of myself.

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