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3rd August 2023 (7 Topics)

Psychiatric cases in paramilitary rose up by 38% in 2 years: MHA

Context

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Rajya Sabha that the total number of psychiatric patients in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) has increased by almost 38 per cent in reported psychiatric cases.

About

  • Around 3,864 cases were reported in CAPFs in 2021.
  • There were a total of 1,470 psychiatric patients in CRPF in 2020, 1,506 in 2021 and 1,882 in 2022.

What are the reasons for the prevalence of Mental Health issues in the Paramilitary Forces?

  • Tightly Structured Hierarchy:
    • Uniformed forces are tightly structured with a command-and-control hierarchy system.
    • A senior officer is the reporting authority for his immediate junior and this junior has to fulfill their tasks with manpower under his/her command.
    • The hierarchy is rarely breached and the system ensures discipline, clarity of roles and accountability.
    • However, it tends to become inhuman, especially to those who cannot communicate their personal issues in an appropriate forum.
  • Stress is not Addressed:
    • Uniformed forces showing signs of mental stress are not given enough attention.
    • Those who express the problem are termed as weak and are seen as shying away from the rigours of life.
  • Less Recognition for their Achievements:
    • The constabulary accounts for around 85% of state police and CAPFs.
    • These personnel perform their duties as directed by their seniors.
    • They mostly remain in the background of the organisation with less recognition for their achievements and more frequent persecution for failure.
  • Tend towards Alcoholism:
    • To cope with the difficulty of the types of setups, personnel often resort to alcoholism and drug abuse.
    • In the latter cases, defaulters are punished as per the law and suitable departmental action is also taken.

What can be the impact of the Rising Mental Health issues among the forces?

  • Discourage Younger Generation: Despite the good image that the armed forces have, and the fact that it is a very respectable job, rising mental health issues among the forces can discourage the younger generations from joining.
  • Demoralize the Forces: Increasing mental health issues among the forces can discourage them and negatively impact their daily operations.
  • Rising cases of Suicides: Suicides, fratricides and untoward incidents are causing more Army personnel to lose their lives than any enemy or terrorist activities, according to the findings of a study by United Service Institution of India (USI).

Government Initiatives:

  • Provision of better quality of facilities such as clothing, food, married accommodation, travel facilities, schooling, recreation etc. and periodic welfare meeting.
  • Conduct of yoga and meditation as a tool for stress management.
  • Training and deployment of psychological counsellors.
  • Institutionalization of projects ‘MILAP’ and ‘SAHYOG’ by Army in Northern & Eastern Command to reduce stress among troops.
  • A ‘MansikSahayata Helpline’ has been established by Army & Air Force to take professional counselling.
  • Mental Health Awareness is provided during pre-induction training.
  • Formation of Military Psychiatry Treatment Centre at INHSAsvini and establishment of Mental Health Centres in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Port Blair, Goa and Karwar.
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