Esperança

Making Mental Health a Priority in Bolivia

Jesús Cáceres is a teacher who for several years has been the director of his unit at the Eustaquio Mendez High School in Tarija, Bolivia.

A father himself, Jesús understands how important teenage years are to mental development, and recognized the unhealthy signs taking root at his school.

“It was an issue that we analyzed in a meeting with the teachers of our educational unit, we were concerned about the level of indiscipline and consequently the level of violence that existed.  Certainly the causes are related to parents abandoning their children, they think that since they are already teenagers, it is not necessary to accompany them, when in fact it is when they most need the support of their parents, because adolescence is an age in which are being reaffirmed in values, in their own identity."

The level of disruption and violence at the school soon became top priority, so Jesús and his colleagues asked the Esperanza Bolivia team to intervene.

“It was different when Esperanza Bolivia entered our Unit.”

Since 2019, Esperança has been at work implementing trainings, one-on-one meetings, talks, and fairs with teachers, students, and their parents, ensuring that everyone involved receives the proper information to make the program a success.

“What I like most about the project is the mental health support group, from which we have very positive results. The group therapy helps students recognize and value themselves, and identify their strengths and weaknesses, from which they can improve their behavior.”

This group has been an efficient violence prevention strategy because it supports young people during a very transformational stage of life.

“We had a young man who last year presented extreme indiscipline behaviors. He received complaints from all teachers. This young man participated all last year in the actions of the project.  Now the comments I receive from teachers about him…his good behavior, his leadership, to the point that this year (2020), he is the president of his class. This is a clear example that therapeutic support for young people helps prevent violence, thanks.”

Elena Burr