“Just as wealth is not equally distributed in our society, neither is health.”

Stuart Murray

When I walk into Klinic Community Health I am met by a vibrant and friendly Vycki Atallah. I take this to be a very good sign. Vycki is a public educator who supports Klinic’s education efforts for the general public and community organizations, as well as the Klinic volunteers. And she is going to help me with my blog on mental health.

After receiving her graduate degree in sociology and womens issues form the University of Manitoba, Vycki wanted to take part of her formal schooling and get some front line experience. She heard about Klinic’s crisis training and applied. She said “after 3 months of training, she saw a job posting and thought “I like this place..they speak my language””. That was 20 years ago.

Her Masters Degree thesis was looking at the proliferation of self help books. Specifically Vycki noticed that there seemed to be a disproportionate number of women who were looking for information on healthy relationships on mental health, wellness, stress management and trauma. Why were so many women struggling?

Diving deeper on the sociology of mental health Vycki looked to see if there were any mental health issues between those who were financially comfortable and those living in poverty. She was interested in probing why those who live in poverty smoke more cigarettes than those with financial means. Further she began to explore why is it that some populations have a harder time to access mental health resources? She observed that they might be using different substances or other things to cope with their mental health.

That is why Vycki went on the Klinic Health Community centre crisis line. She wanted up close and personal experience to learn and to better understand how to work with people who were dealing with a myriad of mental health issues.

Vycki shared that anyone interested in volunteering at Klinic can participate in two programs. One is the Klinic Health Community crisis line. Vycki noted that the crisis line is quite intense and that all volunteers interested in participating are properly trained.

The second program is to welcome people to the Klinic Health Community space. It is critical that anyone who chooses to walk through the doors into Klinic Community Health centre are greeted in a warm, friendly and welcoming way.

When I asked about the impact that CoVID has had on mental health, Vycki replied that she has seen the biggest impact on what she called “connection”. She has noticed that peoples’ baseline has changed. CoVID has put us into constant flux. People who had a routine….the simple things in life….that routine might be getting a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop. You go for a walk, you might bump into someone you know…you might read a newspaper. But CoVID has shut us down and interrupted that routine. And with interruption, your anxiety levels go up.

Vycki Atallah has seen a lot in 20 years. To put those years into perspective, Vycki Atallah has positively impacted thousands of people who have used Klinic Health Community.
To sum up I asked Vycki what is her one take away after working for 20 years at Klinic Community Health. Without skipping a beat, she said that “just as wealth is not equally distributed in our society, neither is health”.