Kevin Edgecombe, with Edgecombe Builders, stands with Christina Camilleri, founder of Heathy Essentials Clinic,at her clinic’s new location on Hill Road. The mental health clinic opens June 1 in Lake Country. (Carli Berry - Calendar)

Okanagan mental health facility takes holistic approach to recovery

Healthy Essentials Clinic is more than a medical arm in Lake Country

Lights dangle from the ceiling and the floor is covered in dust, rubble and glass from ongoing construction in a complex on Hill Road.

In a few months time, the renovations will be complete and the location at 3121 Hill Rd. will house Healthy Essentials Clinic, a facility that aims to take a collective approach to mental health in the community and beyond.

Christina Camilleri, founder and director of the clinic, said it will have multiple services provided by general practitioners, naturopaths, paediatricians physiotherapists, social workers, councillors and more to help clients on every avenue of their journey.

“This (initiative) is not new, this is just new to Canada,” she said, adding that the holistic approach to mental health has already been ongoing in Germany, Japan and New Zealand.

“Right now we have a fragmented system.”

The clinic will have between three to five physicians and four councillors specializing in mental health and family therapy.

As a registered dietitian and counsellor, Camilleri was familiar with this approach to mental health while working in Ontario with war veterans in the 1980s.

Working at Parkwood Hospital, her team supported her initiatives to help integrate the veterans back into everyday life, the services available for the veterans in one complex.

“Whatever I could use in the community I would interlock with the medical (arm) and our original team at Parkwood Hospital not only focused on medical, but we had pastoral care, we had recreational therapy, we had pharmacists sitting at our table, we had massage therapists and PT and OT, that was our team approach,” she said. “It was wonderful.”

She’s been advocating for a similar facility in B.C. for more than 20 years.

“I was disheartened to see what wasn’t available in the community,” she said after moving to Lake Country in the 90s. “It’s called sharing the burden of care.”

With limited resources in our current health care system, “if it doesn’t meet their needs, it leaves them wanting and then they don’t come back into care. A lot of my clientele have tried everything else and they’ve given up, because they want something,” she added.

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The location in Lake Country is perfect because it’s situated between larger municipalities and in a central location with access to a bank, a grocery store, schools and the highway, she said.

Once competed, the clinic will have about 210 clients in structure programming, meaning “through their complete journey to recovery,” she said.

The full program includes nutrition, fitness, mental and medical support.

Camilleri also got a hand from her two daughters, who helped make her dream come true.

Alexandria Pankratz is designing the layout for the building and Mikayla Pankratz is handling the marketing arm.

The official opening date for the clinic is June. 1. Construction is set to be completed in the next 12 weeks.

Coun. Blair Ireland also endorses the facility, saying it’s a way to address mental health concerns with youth, to prevent them from ending up on the streets in a proactive, rather than reactive approach.

“Mental health is a huge issue and it’s something we’re not tackling in any major way,” Ireland said.

To find out more about Healthy Essentials visit http://healthyessentialsclinic.ca.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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