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INDIA: Salesian-run Don Bosco’s Prafulta Psychological Services Helps Youth with Emotional Well-Being

(MissionNewswireIndia is home to 25 percent of the world’s poor and more than 30 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. While progress has been significant and the number of out-of-school children has been reduced from 25 million to 8 million in the past eight years, India continues to have the largest number of child laborers in the world. In addition, an estimated 10 million children live on the streets facing the daily horrors of rampant exploitation, forced labor and widespread substance abuse.

Studies from humanitarian groups suggest that more than 7,200 children, including infants, are raped every year. Sexual abuse is just one of many atrocities children face in India as many are also subject to physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and child trafficking.

As a result of rampant poverty and abuse, many poor youth in India face psychological and emotional difficulties. Often, parents are unable to deal with these problems at home and so they turn to school staff and teachers for extra support.

Don Bosco’s Prafulta Psychological Services was started in 1998 and is located on the campus of the Salesian St. Dominic Savio High School in Mumbai, India. Services include the promotion of emotional well-being through psychological evaluation and diagnosis, professional counseling, career guidance, remedial education, psychiatric services and occupational therapy. Psychologists and other professionals offer assistance to individuals, groups and families to help aid independent functioning and improve quality of life.

In addition, Prafulta offers training and coursework for professionals, including teachers, to advance their skills in helping youth and their families in a school setting. A Basic Skills in Counseling for Teachers training program provides 100 hours of training and helps teachers learn the skills to handle basic emotional and developmental issues in their students.

The Don Bosco Teacher Training Program in Remedial Education, which begins in May 2014, aims to empower teachers, school counselors and parents with information and the know-how to effectively help children with varying needs and disabilities in mainstream schools. For more advanced training, Prafulta offers a certificate course in educational counseling, enabling practitioners to understand children’s difficulties in both educational and emotional areas.

“Teachers have more to deal with in their classrooms than educating students in math and science,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Many of the youth who attend Salesian schools come from challenging backgrounds that often cause education to come second. Prafulta Psychological Services helps teachers prepare for these challenges and helps youth and families cope by improving a student’s educational outcome and emotional well-being.”

Recently, Prafulta launched its first free mental health outreach program for school children and parents. More than 2,000 youth and their parents attended free outreach events and 20 mental health workshops led by Prafulta’s trained counselors, held in both Hindi and English.

Topics included peer pressure, handling difficult emotions and issues around social networking and parents were given education and resources about raising emotionally healthy children.

“If these life skills or coping skills are given at the appropriate time to teenagers, many problems they would otherwise face later can be averted,” said a Prafulta counselor in a recent Mumbai Mirror article about the outreach efforts. He added, “Through the workshops, youth and families can become aware that they may need help and realize that help is available.”



Don Bosco’s Prafulta Psychological Services

Mumbai Mirror – Mental health outreach for school kids, parents

World Bank – India