The University of Toronto's Official Mental Health Magazine

  • broken image

    About Elemental

    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: Physical Health & Mental Health

    broken image

    Spring 2023

    In the current issue, UofT’s Dr. Kipusi discusses the future of mental health and spirituality. Dr. Hadjistavropoulos provides insight into her internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy program for first responders and public safety personnel. Xannie Bakeri shares her original YouTube talk show raising awareness for borderline personality disorder, and our journalists explore the role of social media in mental health and body image. We also hear from UofT’s Harm Reduction Collective and the Street Health Overdose Prevention site on their mission and advocacy to reduce the health and social harms associated with addiction and substance use. The future of psychiatric nursing in Ontario, as well as the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation as an alternative form of treatment are also discussed. Disney Pixar’s film Turning Red is reviewed in the context of social identity, and the concept of work-life balance is explored in the context of the pandemic. We also incorporate tips for mental health for students on a budget, coping with imposter syndrome, and a step-by-step guide to try experiential focusing. Finally, in the era of AI, the current issue chose to utilize ChatGPT to explore the future of mental health care.


  • Featured Articles

    Narratives of Raising Resilient Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Exploring how changes in educational practices and policies impact children and parents. "I hear you and I feel the same way" The COVID-19 pandemic has brought high levels of stress for children and parents to continuously...
    As governments lift COVID-19 restrictions only to re-implement them to flatten the curve of cases to ensure the health care system’s stability, we find ourselves, once again, isolated in uncertainty. Whether it is the fear of catching the virus, financial stress, wider economic precarity, or the...
    What is a feeling, and how do we feel them? The definition of a feeling has become murky over time. You can physically feel something through touch or inner sensations, or a feeling can be something like being sad, happy, or anxious. Over time these definitions have become separate, when in...
    In 2008, the summer between my first and second year at the University of Toronto (U of T), I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and I will never forget the crisis that motivated me to find help on campus. Throughout my first year at school, I felt a growing pressure, like someone was slowly...
    As we enter the third year of a global pandemic, researchers have begun to examine how new societal norms have impacted neurodiverse individuals. For people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the pandemic has led to “unprecedented challenges” associated with increased social...
    Have you participated in any physical activities this week? It is well understood that physical activities are beneficial for our physical and mental health. For example, you may feel happier, more relaxed, and more energetic after exercising. Physical activity is important for everyone, and it...
    “The pursuit of higher, faster, and stronger has led some athletes to risk shame, bans, and even death to get an extra competitive edge…” This quote is from the introduction to the recent Raw Talk Podcast episode titled, “Podium Pills: Fame or Folly?" The episode dives into the world of...
    After nearly two years of intermittent lockdowns and movement restrictions, physical activity is increasingly recognized as essential to wellbeing. Those who remained active throughout the pandemic reported more positive mental health and fewer psychological problems.1 It is, however, always...
    The last two years have been stresfful and difficult for many of us. It is natural to feel a loss of control in the present and worry about how that will translate into the future. Journaling is a great way to manage stress and anxiety because writing out our worst fears on paper tends to make...
    How many times a day would you say you check your phone? And how many of those times would you say you experience feelings of anxiety? Some would say that these are in direct correlation—but it doesn’t have to necessarily be this way. Every day, a host of new apps and technologies arrive at our...
    Feeling lonely? You are not alone. A recent survey from the UK reported that more than one in eight people have no close friends.1 Loneliness affects more than just the retired or those living alone. A recent study suggested that loneliness peaks during the late 20s, mid 50s, and late 80s.2 It...
    As the notion of mindfulness has become more relevant in Western culture, and ever more prevalent in popular media, psychologists have begun to study its effects on the different facets of well-being. A related concept, self-compassion, has similarly been researched in the field of positive...
    The concept of “recovery” has been used in the area of mental health to mean people’s experience of “themselves as recovering a new sense of self and of purpose within and beyond the limits of the disability.”1 In other words, recovery is a personal and subjective experience, and does not require...
    The most recent national estimate showed that 1 in 8 Canadian households is food insecure.1 In other words, over 4 million Canadians struggle to put food on the table. Dr. Valerie Tarasuk, a Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and the Principal...
    Studying is not just about cramming and time-management – managing work-life balance becomes essential requiring a very particular set of skills. Luckily, you don’t have to be Liam Neeson to achieve that balance. “Every decision requires focus. And focus deprives us from our most valuable...
    More than half of the people in the South Asian community with a mental illness do not seek help.1 Specifically, South Asian immigrants have higher levels of life stress and anxiety in relation to other Canadian populations.2 Furthermore, the ongoing mental health stigma experienced by South...
    In 2020, many events took place that marked the year with a somber tone. The tragic passings of high-profile celebrities, while not as widespread as other tragedies, are included as some of those events. The natural response after hearing of someone’s death is sadness, but how does that sadness...
    Education is one of the biggest investments a person makes in their lifetime. During the 2019-2020 school year, the average cost of tuition for a domestic Canadian student was $6463.1 This figure does not include the cost of housing, transportation, food, textbooks, or other necessities. For...
    Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and mental health are intricately linked, and various studies have demonstrated its bi-directional relationship. Particularly, microaggressions–subtle, indirection, or unintentional remarks that are discriminatory against members of marginalized groups–are...
    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations defines food insecurity as “lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life. This may be due to unavailability of food and/or lack of resources to obtain...
    More Posts
  • Past Issues

    The Complete Elemental Archive

    broken image

    Winter 2017

    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.

    broken image

    Fall 2018

    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.

    broken image

    Spring 2019

    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.

    broken image

    Fall 2019

    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.

    broken image

    Winter 2020

    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.

    broken image

    Spring 2020

    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.

    broken image

    Winter 2021

    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!

    broken image

    Summer 2021

    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.”

    broken image

    Spring 2022

    The purpose of this issue is to educate readers about the link between physical and mental health and offer tips on how to get started and stay motivated (e.g., gamifying). We highlight the importance of physical activity for children and adolescents, especially those with autism spectrum disorder. We offer insight on how to find the right balance between movement and rest. In collaboration with RawTalk Podcast, we investigate why amateur and professional athletes may feel the need to take performance enhancing drugs. We explore common misconceptions about love and intimacy. Dr. Michael Wainberg, Postdoctoral Fellow at CAMH, delves into the link between sleep and psychiatric diagnoses. We include coping mechanisms that involve becoming more in tune with your feelings and practical ways to combat the “Winter Blues.” Finally, we share a student’s account of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder during her first year at UofT and another student’s story about losing people to suicide during the pandemic.


  • Want to contribute to our next issue?

    We are always looking for enthusiastic journalists, editors, and designers!

    For more details, send an email to mentalhealth@utgsu.ca, or drop us a line down below!