by Ms Shalu Mehrotra
ANDHERI-MUMBAI, JANUARY 20, 2015: Prafulta Psychological Services has been working in the area of strengthening emotional and mental health since 1998. For some time now, we have been desirous of taking emotional health to a larger platform by offering programmes to people at large. The occasion of the bi-centenary of the birth of Don Bosco, the inspiration for Prafulta, provided a good opportunity to start a new venture to reach larger audiences.
Prafulta in partnership with Bombay First, a not-for-profit think tank NGO, and supported by Global Foundation initiated ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ to boost mental health in the city of Mumbai. The first phase of this project consisted of reaching out to children of over 90 schools in Mumbai and helping them understand the importance of mental health. The process started with counsellors meeting Principals of around 30 schools in each of the 3 different locations and convincing them that building emotional resilience is the need of the hour to help children especially when they are in stress.
During these visits, Principals were informed that the event would be conducted at three Don Bosco Institutions (Matunga, Andheri and Borivli) where students and parents would participate in workshops especially designed for them. The 1st in the series of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham event was held at Don Bosco International School, Matunga on January 10, 2015. It was a spectacle to watch over 600 students, including a large number from BMC schools, participate in the planned activities. These were students from Class 5, 6 and 7. They sat on the open ground in small groups to write, draw or paint their emotions.
Once they got in touch with their feelings of joy, anger, sadness, jealousy, fear etc, they attended a workshop on ‘Handling Difficult Emotions’. Children were taught to get in touch with their feelings and express them in appropriate ways. While the children participated in this process, their parents attended a separate session on ‘Effective Parenting’.
The 2nd event was held at Dominic Savio High School, Andheri on January 11, and the 3rd at Don Bosco High School, Borivli on Jan. 17. In each of these venues over 500 children and their parents participated in the workshops. Many of them expressed that this was the first time they became aware of the importance of feelings and learned ways to deal with them. Violence in society has increased chiefly because of our inability to deal appropriately with feelings. Parents too were happy to learn effective ways of handling their children. They asked many questions and were grateful for the insightful answers they received.
More than 40 volunteer counsellors trained by Prafulta and elsewhere came together to conduct these sessions for children and their parents. The core team included Fr. Godfrey D’Sa, the Founder Director of Prafulta, Ms. Shalu Mehrotra who has been working at Prafulta since 2001 and Mr. Shishir Joshi, CEO Bombay First, who is also a trained counsellor.
This programme was offered free of cost because of the generosity of Global Foundation that sponsored this event. Looking at the huge positive response and based on the understanding that a programme done only once may not be effective, we plan to have follow-up programmes with the same students and also propose to organise many more such events for various other schools.