Friday, August 6, 2021
HomeEditorialMumbai’s Khaki needs mental health counselling

Mumbai’s Khaki needs mental health counselling

A brave Maharashtra police, which once known for after Scotland Yard’s police, unfortunately tops the list for police suicides. Hit by a series of suicides within the force in the last few months, the state police department has decided to use the Armed Forces formula and set up its own unit of clinical and counselling psychologists to help its personnel cope with stress. We talk about police managing the youth, community, state and country. We also expect too much from these people neglecting the fact that they too are human being and have equal or more sufferings than an average common man. Nowadays, for this khaki, mental health is biggest issues. However, it’s very unfortunate that the state machinery has no time to address these issues. Right now, Mumbai and Maharashtra police needs mental health checkups and workshops to address the depression levels in them.

The police department is now waiting for the state government’s green signal for its proposal to hire a 100-member team of qualified experts to be deployed in all districts and attached with all special divisions of the police to monitor the squads.

Detailed data on police suicides in the city was procured by RTI activist earlier. It is necessary to ensure that police personnel do not turn skeptical when “over-smart” officers continuously get good postings, whereas good ones get relegated. This leads to discrimination and ridicule in social circles; wives and children of successful officers often boast, which humiliates kin of those who are not been promoted. This makes a sensitive officer vulnerable to suicide. The best way to stop this is to ensure that postings and transfers are done in a transparent manner, with an unbiased committee. They must be based on sound principles of job rotation. Mumbai police is divided in privileged and underprivileged staff, the upper crust of Mumbai police is rich, famous, prosperous and have lavish living whereas low rank hawaldars to police inspector, are living in challenges. Devendra Fadanvis’ government has no home minister as the portfolio is with him but he is unable to ensure the welfare of the department.

One cannot deny that the Police officers are working in poor infrastructural conditions, where they have to deal with a number of issues. Firstly, their senior officers are abusive and treat juniors in a shabby manner. There is long working hours and leave for them is scarce, which leads to bigger problems. After a point, it becomes intolerable and that is when they lose their cool and take such extreme steps. ASI-level officers are usually more frustrated due to their advanced age. By the time they get promoted, they cross 50 years of age. For someone who has not been trained as an officer, to become one at such an advanced age becomes very stressful. Also, an ASI has to grapple with a huge amount of work. This is why, they cannot exert as much as their younger counterparts, and have less patience too.

There are several factors, which develop and grow over a period, contribute to the decision. The extreme step comes when a line is crossed and that person is unable to bear the stress. Long working hours, poor working conditions, VIP protection duty, festivals and lack of structural reforms had increased their stress levels. Long-term stress causes depression and suicide. Regular screening for mental health problems during a physical check-up is a must. Depression across age groups in the force is not easily identified and fixed early, which leads to the taking of drastic steps. Easily availability of lethal weapons is also one of the reasons for high suicide trend in police personnel. Department has not carried out structural reforms to tackle such issues. Proper screening of individual cops at the police station should be carried out to fix the tendency of suicide at an early stage. In many cases, it is not only work stress. Depression is also due to personal and family reasons. The tolerance level of personnel has also gone down.

The department has come out with an initiative where gyms and yoga classes have been started at police stations. Personnel have been urged to spend time in the gym and at yoga classes to reduced stress levels. Excessive work pressure and failure to accomplish desired professional ambitions may act as a primary or major contributory reason for suicides. Such ambitions could be getting good postings and regular career advancement. Work pressure may be a cause, but the bigger one is humiliation by seniors in the form of day-to-day harassment or punitive transfers and punishment posting for a good officer for many years. Such unbearable humiliation and consistent mental torture foster suicidal tendencies.

With blood pressure, sugar, diabetes, depression, obesity, skin disorders Mumbai police also suffering with heart issues and HIV at large. This is high time; government needs to tackle this issue with more sensitive way to build the health and morale of Mumbai police.

Most of the population lives with a mental illness, which translates to over millions of people bearing with the rate of suicides, cardiovascular health and several days of productivity lost. However, the gritty view of the state of mental health in India is, to put it slightly, apoplectic. Nearly half of those with severe mental disease aren’t treated and of those with less severe versions, nearly 9 in 10 go uncared for. Most of the population has mental disorders and 1 in a 5 have emotional and behavioural problems, ranging from mild to severe. This also doesn’t begin to account for the extent of counselling that is required. According to the government’s estimates, about 1 in 5 people in the country need counselling, either psychological or psychiatric. Depression, most prevalent form of mental illness is estimated to 3 of every 100 in urban areas like Mumbai. The impact of inadequate mental health treatment can be estimated–though not entirely correlated– by its effect on suicide rates.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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