Spearheaded by Grad Minds, Elemental is the official tri-campus mental health magazine at the University of Toronto with contributions from students, staff, and faculty.
The initiative is aimed at promoting mental health awareness and fostering a strong community of support at the University and beyond through an educational, collaborative, and empowering communication platform.
Current Issue: Social Determinants of Mental Health
The purpose of this issue is to educate readers on the social determinants of mental health as it relates to mental illness prevention and mental health promotion. In this issue, we feature student viewpoints on how mental health can be affected by various social determinants including income inequality, equity, food insecurity, cost of education, cultural barriers to healthcare, learning disabilities, and lockdowns. Shannon Giannitsopoulou, Inclusion & Diversity Coordinator at UofT, discusses the creation of the UofT Faculty of Medicine, Office of Inclusion and Diversity's Microaggressions and Allyship Campaign, #UofTMedCARES. Anna Hill and Andrew Lustzyk, co-founders of The Together Project, share how they are building community connections among refugee newcomers. We also share a research article by ADRA Canada that highlights important findings concerning maternal mental health in Cambodia. Finally, we include two articles with coping mechanisms that we have not touched upon: “The Power of Play” and “Neuroplasticity and Mental Wellbeing: Using the Adaptive Quality of Mind to Create an Upward Spiral.”
The Complete Elemental Archive
This issue provides a glimpse into how the University is actively addressing and promoting mental health on campus through a variety of tailored and timely supports. We hear about developments in UTSG’s Health and Wellness Centre and UTSC’s Flourish Program, alongside more specific initiatives at the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Brenda Toner highlights the benefits of mindful meditation while Dr. Allan Kaplan discusses the genetics behind eating disorders. We hear about community activists and organizations, and the importance of self-care and the brain boosting power of exercise, as well as strategies to navigate imposter phenomenon and more.
In this issue, Sophie Trudeau talks about the impact of starting a conversation around mental health and the importance of self-care in academia. Dr. Norman Farb explains the connection between mindfulness and depression, and Director Curt Jaimungal discusses the film “I’m Okay,” which portrays depression as an anti-romantic comedy. Professors Catherine Sabiston and Michelle French speak on the benefits of exercise and mental health, and Julie Audet discusses the development of mental health strategies at the Faculty of Engineering. We also hear from UofT’s Jack.org chapter on improving mental health education and resources, as well as the Faculty of Pharmacy on incorporating lived experience into courses.
In this issue, we explore anxiety as it presents itself at the University of Toronto and higher education ecosystem – through the perspectives of students, staff, faculty and within the greater Toronto community. We learn about ways to tackle anxieties in undergraduate and graduate school, including ways to talk to professors about anxiety, practical methods for de-stressing, and the impacts of technology and the media on mental health. We also hear about the various therapeutic approaches to treating anxiety, including cognitive behavioural therapy from Dr. Khush Amaria, a Senior Clinical Director from CBT Associates, research in alternative treatments from Dr. Martin Antony, the Director of Anxiety Research and Treatment at Ryerson University, as well as a discussion with clinical psychologist Dr. Lance Hawley, on ways to manage OCD through mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance.
Substance use and addiction are thought to exist on a spectrum, with a multitude of biological, psychological, and social contributing factors at play. In a University context, students are susceptible to high levels of stress and may engage in substance use as a means of coping or temporary escape. One important factor to consider is how mental health and addictions impact one another. In this issue, Dr. Tony George, Professor and Clinician Scientist at CAMH, discusses the link between mental illness and addiction. Dr. Jose Trigo, Neuroscientist at CAMH, discusses some of the risk factors associated with cannabis use and debunks some of the biggest myths surrounding substance use disorders. Dr. Julianne Vandevoort, psychologist at CAMH, discusses available psychotherapy treatments for cannabis use disorder and some of the challenges associated with treatment. We also explore the impact of social pressures on substance use in individuals with autism spectrum disorder, as well as substance use in Indigenous communities and the need for culturally sensitive treatment approaches.
In this issue, we explore the latest findings and treatments for eating disorders. Dr. Danielle MacDonald, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, shares her perspectives on eating disorders through a clinical lens. Tracie Burke, Registered Dietitian and Registered Psychotherapist, discusses evidence-based treatment approaches for eating disorders. Alexandra Venger, Registered Dietitian, teaches us the difference between eating disorders and disordered eating. Jay Walker, Registered Psychotherapist, discusses his personal experience with disordered eating and excessive exercise.
We also look into the relationship between food and mental health. Kelly Matheson, Registered Dietitian, talks about the latest research exploring the link between nutrition and mental health. Dr. Valerie Tarasuk, Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, tells us about her research investigating household food insecurity in Canada. Furthermore, we discuss popular 21st century nutrition trends and examine whether it is possible to take diet and exercise too far.
In this issue, we have included several interviews that explore how technology and social media can affect mental health and wellbeing. Dr. Jeffrey Ansloos, Assistant Professor of Indigenous Mental Health and Social Policy in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, shares how he is optimizing social media for Indigenous Mental Health. Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, provides insight on the changing role social media plays in autism spectrum disorder. Elaine Uskoski shares her story of how she helped her youngest son, Jake, recover from video game addiction.
We delve deep into how social media has contributed to the “Loneliness Epidemic” and weight stigma, and we share practical tips on how to cultivate self-love in this digital age. We explore the benefits of unplugging from our devices as well as the benefits of using technology in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also look into how daily meditation can help us change our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and how it can literally rewire our brains through the principle of neuroplasticity.
Issue 7 – COVID-19
In this issue, we share several UofT student viewpoints on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their studies and society as a whole. Additionally, we feature expert opinions from UofT faculty and their advice for taking care of our mental health. Dr. Andrea Levinson, Psychiatrist-in-Chief at University of Toronto, emphasizes the importance of finding balance and shares resources available through Health and Wellness. Dr. Indra Narang, Director of Sleep Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children, explores the link between mental health, sleep, and COVID-19 disruptions. Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, Assistant Professor in the Clinical Public Health Division at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, shares her latest research on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected substance abuse. We highlight several non-profit organizations, including Reena and the COVID-19 Women’s Initiative, and show how they have taken action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also include several coping strategies to help everyone get through these difficult times!