Experts from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans), Bengaluru, are set to administer a comprehensive wellness programme aimed at helping the Tamil Nadu police combat increased levels of “destructive stress” and “mental disorder” caused by work pressure.
The State government recently sanctioned ₹10 crore for the scheme, acting on a letter from the Director General of Police (DGP), who drew its attention to various factors that exposed the police to physical and mental health disorders.
A Government Order (G.O.) said the DGP pointed out that circumstances forced police personnel to work round-the-clock, without adequate rest and leave. “The pressures in the work environment subject police personnel to the risk of high blood pressure, insomnia, heart attack and increased levels of destructive stress and mental disorder,” the DGP said in his letter. “Since most police personnel are lacking in stress management skills, some of them are addicted to alcohol, some are even driven to suicide. Moreover, the personal and family life of the personnel also become very unpleasant,” he added.
As first responders, the police were exposed to violence, emergencies, disasters, unstructured work schedule, poor time management etc. [and] their stress levels were higher than those of other professionals, the DGP said.
The G.O. said the DGP, after consulting senior police officers, decided to seek the assistance of professionals to address “burning issues” facing the police force. After considering suggestions from various mental health professionals, the Registrar of Nimhans was called for a detailed discussion.
A decision was then taken to entrust the task of boosting the well-being of the police with Nimhans, a multidisciplinary institute of national importance.
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami is expected to launch the wellness programme in Chennai on September 20.
The comprehensive wellness programme, which involves a series of training protocols, would cover police personnel in seven commissionerates, 31 districts and all Tamil Nadu Special Police battalions and units, reaching out to the 1.2 lakh-strong police force.
Renowned psychiatrist Dr. C. Ramasubramanian has been appointed as the Nodal Officer to coordinate between Nimhans and the Tamil Nadu police for the implementation of the programme. When contacted, Dr. Ramasubramanian said the programme would cover the entire police force, from the constable to the DGP.
Recently, the Madras High Court expressed concern over the rising number of suicides among police personnel. Justice N. Kirubakaran wondered why the State government had not implemented the court’s suggestion in 2012 to constitute a committee, headed by a retired High Court judge, to identify the causes of the problem and recommend solutions.
The State informed the court that 296 police personnel committed suicide between 2008 and 2017, and as many as 8,158 deserted the force in the last 10 years. As many as 3,032 personnel had died in service since 2008 — about 300 deaths every year.