BIS #6129 Prafulta’s Lockdown Journey - from Offline to Online & Both

by Ratandeep Chawla with Cleric Nevelle Coutinho for BISMumbai

Prafulta’s journey from a near standstill and uncertain situation, to restarting of the services in both the online and offline modes has been as unexpected as the coronavirus. In March when the lockdown was announced we still had hopes of resuming soon. But as the lockdown prolonged well beyond April, Father Godfrey D'sa proactively suggested that work must continue and we must find alternate ways of reaching out to people in need. While the counseling services continued online, he decided to bring some more services in the online mode as well. He also had the vision to endeavor to reach out to the masses through various Helplines and make people aware of Prafulta and its various services.

For this purpose the various departments started working hard to contribute to this vision. The Vocational Guidance team hosted several webinars for students and their parents to make them aware of the various professions that can be pursued after Classes 10 and 12 . They held a series of 4 webinars and the response received was overwhelming. The Vocational/Career guidance online testing was also initiated and made available through an online mode. A team comprising a psychiatrist, occupational therapist and clinical psychologist conducted various workshops under the banner of Behavioural Skills & Functional Educational (BSAFE) and Mind Essentials like ‘Aggrrrression’, Hello Life, Integrating online Schooling, etc.

Prafulta’s various training courses including some international courses were moved to an online platform. The consultants got themselves geared and equipped themselves to work on these online modes. Father D'sa provided all the necessary assistance required for consultants to operate smoothly from their own homes with support from the office staff.

Following this, the occupational therapists continued providing occupational therapy to the children who were already seeking therapy from Prafulta. The OT team also made short videos on how ‘Brain breaks are synonymous to Physical activities’ to help reduce the mobile time exposure in children specially during the lockdown. These videos were then widely spread through Prafulta’s social media channels. For this purpose, a core team was set up to reach to the masses through social media channels in these challenging times and address various mental stresses and anxieties arising due to the pandemic.

Father D'sa and Shalu Mehrotra, a Senior Therapist at Prafulta, also conducted various online workshops for corporate employees to strengthen their emotional management during these uncertain times. In collaboration with Project Mumbai, Prafulta Counselors and Special Educators provided support to callers from all over Maharashtra to deal with their emotional stress due to COVID-19 and provide relevant information and help. Fr. Godfrey also created a lot of awareness on mental health during the lockdown period through his videos on various topics like addiction, depression, managing conflicts, coping with grief, relationships, emotional wellness, loneliness and many others which were widely viewed on the YouTube channel of the Archdiocese of Bombay.

A wellbeing program on Emotional Development and Career Guidance (EDCG) conducted in schools for students and their parents every year is now introduced and synced with the various different online platforms for students of five different schools. About 13 counselors of Prafulta are a part of this venture and are ensuring that almost 4000 students and their parents get the best from these programs by making it interactive and as interesting as possible.

During the last 5 months of the Corona Pandemic, Prafulta witnessed a well-coordinated and collaborative effort by all consultants and office staff to make this transition a smoother and quicker process so that Prafulta continues to make a difference in the lives of people…..whether online or offline or both.