Real Talk: Mental Health During A Modern Pandemic

Real Talk: Mental Health During A Modern Pandemic

Physical distancing mandates, though indispensable, have hampered tangible human contact for months. This pandemic has affected even those with stable neurological makeup, rendering mental health into focus. Our student, Sidhesh, who moved from India to pursue higher-education was caught in the headlights with the sudden, monumental changes that COVID-19 has brought in the world. He spoke to us about the impact that the “new normal” has brought to his life and divulged honestly into coping mechanisms hoping to help us understand that we are in this struggle together.

Sidhesh Kumar Jothilingam, TRP Student, June 2020

This pandemic has completely changed our lives – for better or for worse. While some of us are lucky enough to live our quarantine lives with family and loved ones, many international students like myself live alone. Living alone during the lockdown can affect our mental health significantly; through this blog post, I would like to share how the COVID-19 landscape affected me and how I am dealing with it.

As an introvert, during the initial days of the lockdown, I was extremely confident that I will be able to handle this situation with ease. But things across the country started to get worse, gradually as days passed by; staying indoors for weeks made me unproductive. I started overthinking and anxiety kicked in. To make things worse, I lost a couple of people who meant a lot to me, during the course of this lockdown. This added negatively to my predicament and I was left to deal with loss and grief in the solitude of my apartment.

Fortunately, I was able to recognize my deteriorating mental health and I promptly began reaching out to my close friends. Thanks to UofT’s Health and Wellness Center, I was able to connect with a Graduate Wellness Counsellor virtually and seek help. These sessions helped me a lot and a few key learnings that have positively impacted my pandemic life are:

  • You cannot control all aspects of the things happening around you, but you can control how you react to these things or situations.
  • Reaching out to your close friends and well-wishers when you’re having a personal crisis will help you see things from a different perspective and inherently make you feel better.
  • You are (probably) not the only person experiencing or going through this, especially during these challenging times.
  • Whatever crisis you’re facing right now, it won’t last forever; things will get better.

These four points form the cornerstones of my daily life. Whenever I feel distressed, I fall back on these. It may not seem like much, but reaching out and feeling gratified are mantras for sound mental health.

Apart from these key learnings, I’ve kept myself busy by listening to podcasts and audiobooks, going for physical-distancing compliant long walks, attending classes online, learning creative tools, the list goes on.

Additionally, I’m glad to be a part of the TRP Social Committee, we organize virtual events such as Trivia night, Netflix party, etc. to bring the TRP community closer during these uncertain and challenging times. These social interactions, even though virtual, have been wonderful. Human interaction and keeping in touch with the community have been my source of solace and strength.

I know you might’ve heard this a hundred times and it might sound clichéd, but just try to stay positively optimistic and fervently believe that things will get better. I’ve had enough bad days to tell you with certainty that things will always get better!

Stay safe and take care!

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ 

Sidhesh aspires to become a med-tech entrepreneur by starting a medical devices company after the completion of this program. He hopes to dive deeper into his chosen field and convert pathbreaking solutions into finished market-ready products. His alternate career option inclines towards coming up with innovative ideas and solutions in the healthcare space. 

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

We all have a role in our students’ mental wellness. At the TRP, we support open conversations, please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you feeling distressed. Life is complicated and doesn’t always go as planned.

If you are in distress, we can connect you to the help you need. Talk to someone right NOW. 24/7 Emergency Counselling Services:

Good2Talk Student Helpline | 1-866-925-5454
Professional counseling, information, and referrals helpline for mental health, addictions, and students’ well-being.

My SSP for International Students | 1-844-451-9700. Outside of North America, call 001-416-380-6578. Culturally-competent mental health and counseling services in 146 languages for international student use.

For additional information, please visit Health and Wellness offered at the University of Toronto or find more information on our website

Application Deadline – Extended **

Application Deadline – Extended **

Hello Applicants!


Due to the evolving uncertainties related to COVID-19, we have extended the application deadline for International applicants to June 1st, 2020 (Documentation deadline: June 15th, 2020).

The Translational Research Program is still open to answer any questions you may have regarding the program, application process, etc. Feel free to email us at or book a 1-on-1 consultation with a member of the admission committee here.

We look forward to reviewing your application!

Thank you

TRP Team


Changes to the application process 

Changes to the application process 

Announcement: New changes to the application process

As of May 1st 2019, the Translational Research Program moved administrative home from the Institute of Medical Science to the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology. For those interested in learning about the context of our move, you can read a post by Dr. Joseph Ferenbok here.  The program, delivery of curriculum, and approach does not change.

How does this affect your application process?

For existing applications on the system, you should be able to log in the same way on the SGS website and still access the portal the same way. There is work being done by IT to transfer existing applications from IMS to LMP department. However, even if this change is made, you should still be able to access your online application the same way.

For new applications yet to be started
If you have not started your application, you will need to register a profile on the SGS application site and need to select LMTRRMHSC under Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology as your Degree Program of Study (Degree POST).

Full instructions on how to apply are found here.

*A reminder that our final deadline to submit an application to be part of the 2019 cohort is June 1st, midnight.

Having trouble with your application?
If you have any trouble accessing the system please contact us directly at

Information Session: Additional Section

Information Session: Additional Section

In the past, we have tried to keep our information sessions capped to 15 – 20 people. This was because we wanted to try to follow our student-centric philosophy–and more than 20 people in a room meets some are inevitably not given enough opportunities to ask questions and engage with our time. Since there are usually people who sign up but don’t show up the groups have generally tended to be small enough to cater to individual interactions.

However, for our January 23th, 2019 session, since the session and the waiting list are both full and we are still getting questions about people attending, I am happy to announce that we have decided to run two sessions in parallel to try to include more people without sacrificing our attempt have smaller groups.

SO, if you are interested in finding out more about the TRP, there are now additional spaces on January 23, 2019. RSVP HERE.