Caitlin Reilly, 4th year, is the co-founder of U.Va’s newest club– the Patronus Project. The name the Patronus Project is a clever reference to the Harry Potter series and an impressive way educate others about mental wellness. In the series, hero Harry Potter must consistently face creatures called Dementors, which feed upon human happiness and cause deep depression and sadness. One way to drive off. Dementors is by casting the luminous, although difficult to learn, Patronus Charm. Likewise, the students involved with the Patronus Project are interested in bringing light (the Patronus Charm) to mental illnesses (the Dementors) as well as advocating for the mental wellness of fellow Hoos.
The mission of the Patronus Project is to: 1. Change the way that people talk about mental illness and get people the help that they need 2. Educate about mental illness and wellness.
The project began with a discussion between Caitlin and friend about creating a space to discuss mental wellness. Eventually, the initial concept morphed into a whole week of events. They put a table tent out, recruited students and advertised via flyers, tabling and Facebook. “We also handed out chocolate frogs,” Caitlin recalls with a laugh (another Harry Potter reference).
“Perfectionism is a culture here”, she explains. “And it can get really stressful. We want people to be able to practice positive mental health, find their own success at U.Va, and be happy.”
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