Q&A with Executive Director Talya Azreili

Vent Over Tea is highlight their Executive Director, Talya Azrieli. Get to know Talya in this Q&A spotlight and learn about the tireless work that goes on behind the scenes of Vent Over Tea.

Q: What drew you to joining VOT as a volunteer in the first place?

A: I had just gone through a big transition in my own mental health journey that summer, and I was looking to put myself out there more in the coming academic year. When I discovered VOT it seemed like a great fit since I have always been very passionate about mental wellness and wanted to get involved in the community.

Q: What would you say to those considering volunteering in their community but never have? 

A: Do it. You won’t regret it. It will probably have a bigger impact on your life than you can imagine.

Q: When did you first join Vent Over Tea? What was your role then and how has it evolved to your current role?

A: I joined Vent Over Tea (VOT) in Fall 2016. Eric, our current Volunteer Coordinator, recruited a few of us to do outreach on McGill campus. I was an undergraduate student there at the time and partnered with student groups to do events around campus. 

I loved partnering with other groups, so my role evolved to being the Events Director and I focused on making our events a pillar of what we offer to the community, starting with the university community. 

From there, I was really passionate about the organization’s bigger operations and potential for growth so I started asking to help Chloe, our co-founder, with more administrative and operations goals. She was very open to me taking on a few of those tasks and was an amazing mentor; I learned a lot about how to run meetings, manage other people, and create goals. 

Q: What is your favourite part about your role as Executive Director (ED)?

A: I love having the opportunity to speak to all of our volunteers across the organization and to meet with our partners and supporters! I love having a hand in all of our different projects and seeing our progress in all these different ways. The job is never repetitive which I absolutely love and I am constantly learning new things every day, whether it is with software or how I can be a better leader. 

Q: What is the most challenging part about your role as ED?

A: It can be stressful wondering if you are doing the right thing or making the right decision. I am very early in my career and often doubt my abilities, which is difficult when there are a lot of people relying on me.

Q: How has your role as ED allowed you to grow in your personal and/or professional life?

A: The biggest thing is my confidence in my ability to learn and connect with others. In my personal life, I have always been an introverted person and being involved in events, partnerships, and team management at Vent Over Tea has given me a lot of social confidence. I think there is a general conception that extroverted qualities are better suited for these roles but that’s not always the case. 

In my professional life, I have learned so many leadership skills, people skills, and admin skills like bookkeeping, that I never would have been able to learn in such a short amount of time if not for being the ED at VOT. I am growing as the organization does too, which is very cool.

Q: How do you prioritize your mental health?

A: Treating my mind and body with the respect it deserves. That might sound cliché but I truly think that it makes a difference to be understanding with myself on days when my mental health isn’t the best, the same way that some days are physically difficult if you have a cold. 

In addition, I spent a few years finding the right combination of things that I absolutely need if I want my mind and body to be healthy. I sleep 9–10 hours a night (I need a lot of sleep). Related to that, my phone automatically turns off all notifications at 9 PM. 

I also know that I need to do physical activity for my mental health. It’s a non-negotiable. Something that I found during COVID-19 restrictions is that walking and running outside are probably some of my favorite ways to fulfill this need. 

Q: What’s something you wish you could tell your younger self about mental health?

A: Be open to suggestions from mental health professionals. Things were harder for me for longer than they had to be because I was resistant to the advice of my mental health professional, but in the end their advice allowed me to be the best version of myself.

Q: Why should someone try VOT’s active listening services?

A: Putting our feelings and experiences into words is very powerful and can do amazing things for our mental well-being and coping. It can help us realize where feelings are stemming from or if there are bigger things to address. 

VOT offers a space where you can say anything without the fear of judgment or repercussions that might be present in your personal life. It is a wonderful service if you need to get something off your chest or if you are interested in using a mental health service but are not sure where to start.

Need to get something off your chest?

Book a free vent session today.

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