When Harry Potter teaches mental health

She connected it with her favourite subject psychology and branched out her new method of mental health care Harry Potter Workshops.
Ezhil Meena's Harry Potter Workshops. (Photo | Express)
Ezhil Meena's Harry Potter Workshops. (Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: When author JK Rowling’s fictional character Harry Potter undergoes a lot of confusing emotions and is unable to express himself because of his deep-rooted miseries, many of us felt he was living under our skin.

And it was precisely this factor that motivated Ezhil Meena to pick up the novel and find a deeper meaning to it. She connected it with her favourite subject psychology and branched out her new method of mental health care Harry Potter Workshops.

Initiatives to build hope
Ezhil, an assistant professor of psychology at Women’s Christian College, a counselling psychologist and a research scholar fell in love with the Harry Potter series when she was in class 11. When Ezhil founded The Good Talk in 2019 after completing her Masters in Psychology from Mount Carmel College, she wanted to create a place where people from non-psychology backgrounds could benefit from the subject. Her organisation serves as a place for people to bond and talk about mental health.

“I started The Good Talk as a mental health initiative and have been doing workshops and creating support groups since then. I felt like people can benefit from psychology, by understanding themselves better, figuring out conflict resolution, pondering on how to be better and how to manage relationships, stress, and all of that.”

Bringing Harry Potter into her workshops was her recent invention and she shares, “When I read Harry Potter, or watch the movies, I can draw lines between the themes in Harry Potter and mental health. I thought it would be easier for them to relate to concepts when I give them examples from Harry Potter. Through the workshops, we are focusing on emotions, forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness, self-compassion, self-love, self-care, fitness and also managing stress during hard times like Covid.”

Methods employed
Trained in various modes of psychotherapy, Ezhil uses scientific, evidence-based interventions in her services. She starts with The Dobby Effect, which evaluates our underlying emotions and the self-critical projections which often show low self-esteem and confidence in a person.

She explains, “When Dobby is introduced, he is always hitting himself and calling himself stupid. His behaviour shows that he is overly critical of himself. But when it comes to others, he is always praising them and loving them unconditionally.”

To overcome The Dobby Effect, according to the psychologist, there should be self-compassion. As a first step to developing self-compassion, she asks us to find our dementors, which deplete the happiness and light out of our lives.

These dementors might be the people, places or reasons that trigger us and instigate our traumas. After identifying the dementors, like in the book, the Patronus Charm to eliminate them is performed. Ezhil’s Patronus Charm is the method of writing down the participant’s happy memories, achievements and things that they are grateful for.

She shares, “Maintaining good mental health takes a lot of work and discipline. Maintaining a log of happy memories might seem like an easy task but doing it every day makes it difficult.

Sometimes, in times of emotional overwhelmingness, it will be hard for us to even find one happy memory from our past. During times like that, this method helps.” The next step in the process will be watching yourself in the Mirror of Erised, the one which reveals your deepest desires.

Through this, she asks everyone to address their deepest aspirations and goals and develop strategies to get there. Among the various methods performed at her workshops, these are the highlighted ones.

For Harry Potter fans, The Good Talk is a comfort corner to exhibit their emotions and problems in a much easier way. For others, Ezhil provides an inclusive environment to reconnect with themselves. Ezhil plans on expanding her workshops to more places in Bengaluru and Chennai and exploring more fun themes.

For more details follow @goodtalk_mentalhealth on Instagram, or call 9943377749

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The New Indian Express