A photo display done in partnership with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto
DISTANCING is a view into the lives of Canadians while they adapt to life with COVID-19. These three portraits of staff and students of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto are photographed from outside looking in and show a cross section of health professionals as as they sit in their homes, doing their best to live, work and exist in the new normal.
The photos that are a part of the DISTANCING series are meant to show that no matter who you are or what you do, this pandemic has effected all of us in ways that will ripple into our future for years and decades to come. Seeing people and families inside their homes illustrates the idea that although it often felt like it, we were not on our own in our fight against this public health emergency.
A wider collection of images from the DISTANCING series of images can be found here
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Paul Bettings has been capturing social, cultural and geo-political issues through his camera for more than 15 years. His commitment to the visual art of photography is based on a philosophy of relational and intimate storytelling, with honesty and sensitivity. Throughout Paul’s career, assignments have taken him around the globe and allowed him to photograph in the deserts, rivers, mountains and jungles of our amazing planet. In all these spaces, Paul enjoys creative expression, storytelling and advocating on behalf of others.
Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
This photo captures the workspace in my living room—my COVID-19 home office. Much of the public health research I have conducted over the COVID-19 pandemic has involved learning about the ways that COVID-19 has adversely impacted the sexual, social, and mental health of diverse gay, bisexual, and queer men in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.
Most of the gay, bisexual, and queer men we interviewed reported that COVID-19 has had negative impacts on their mental health, including increasing feelings of social isolation, depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. In reflecting on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on his mental health, one participant put it like this: “it certainly went way downhill…but I don’t think it was strong to start”. This participant, like many we spoke with, talked about how COVID-19 exacerbated existing mental health challenges, disproportionally impacting his community. Others, however, noted that the pandemic had some unexpected positive effects, especially with respect to self-reflection and greater awareness about mental health.
For more information about our research, please see: https://www.engage-men.ca/engage-covid-19/
For a mental health community recourse, please see: www.goodhead.ca
This is a website for gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, or other men who have sex with men to learn and build curiosity about the mental health issues affecting their communities and to help them locate mental health services in Ontario.
Manager, Centre for Global Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
Life under lockdown has been difficult. It has forced many of us to give up being together, to keep each other safe. I moved to a new house during the height of the pandemic and I have been thinking a lot about community. What are my neighbours like? How old is the tree across the street? Is that the same squirrel from yesterday? These are questions that roll through my mind as I sit patiently at my front window, looking out onto my new street. Making a home is not just about the stuff on the inside. It is also about what is on the outside - how we inhabit the spaces where we live, in relation to others. It is how we continue to live well – together.
Sarah C. Sutherland
PhD Candidate, Epidemiology and Collaborative Specialization in Global Health
This scene makes me think of how our homes have really become our entire world; especially for those of us who work remotely. This is one of my favourite windows because it overlooks my rooftop garden. I am from the suburbs of Kanata and have always been surrounded by forests and gardens. It can be challenging to immerse yourself in nature in Toronto. Having my own garden, even in containers and pots on a rooftop, helps me relax and feel connected to home.
While finishing my PhD throughout the pandemic, I also designed and made high-quality masks and delivered them to vulnerable groups around Ontario. And I joined an Infectious Disease Working Group where we have worked to pass along information that will help to keep people and communities safe.
This year has been stressful, exhausting, and heartbreaking in so many ways, but it has also shown us how much can be accomplished when we come together with a common goal of keeping ourselves and each other safe. At the end of the day, each person can only do their best, and together, even while physically alone, we will get through this.