BSF launches computer-assisted test to examine psychological health of personnel
Computer-assisted clinical interview techniques have been used to conduct the psychological analysis.india Updated: Dec 06, 2017 22:26 IST
Do you worry a lot? What do you worry about? Is it about money or family issues? Have you suffered from seizures?
These were some of the queries posed in a 20-point questionnaire for Border Security Force (BSF) personnel during their health check-up this year. The document was prepared by a team of doctors engaged by the paramilitary force to conduct a psychological analysis of its 2.5 lakh members.
The exercise, which was launched last week, comes at a time when the paramilitary force is grappling with rising cases of suicide – 43 in 2014, 27 in 2015, 24 in 2016, and 36 so far in 2017.
“We plan to complete the test, which is usually a year-long exercise, in the next four months. Once the results come in, troopers found susceptible to psychological issues or stress will be allotted a buddy under the buddy support system. Medicines will be prescribed for troopers showing chronic signs of depression,” Dr Rohit Kumar, a commandant involved in the test, told Hindustan Times.
Other queries in the questionnaire pertain to possible personality disorders; manias; thought and eating disorders; memory impairment; and drug or alcohol abuse. The BSF will take follow-up measures based on the ratings received.
Computer-assisted clinical interview techniques have been used to conduct the psychological analysis. This was recommended by a team of doctors that previously worked on farmer suicides.
Officials said the Wellness Quotient Assessment Test (WQAT) is being implemented for proper upkeep of the BSF personnel’s psychological health as well as early detection of personality disorders – if any. The answers will be analysed by a computer program that adjudges the respondent on parameters such as anxiety, concentration, depression, psychosis, obsession, phobia, mania, hypochondriasis, disorientation, memory, eating disorder and sleep difficulties.
Originally called the Global Mental Health Assessment Tool, the software exercise was renamed as WQAT on the recommendation of BSF director general KK Sharma because he reportedly wanted to do away with the word ‘mental’ –considered stigmatic by many.
Government officials said the ministry of home affairs plans to implement the same test for other paramilitary forces too. The WQAT will be carried out by BSF paramedics trained by a team of medical experts headed by UK-based Dr Vimal Kumar Sharma.
“Suicide is something that happens when a person – or, in this case, a trooper – reaches an extreme situation in his/her life. The test is about much more than just dealing with suicide. It also helps negate the factors that cause stress among security forces. The most important asset we have is our personnel. Each life is valuable to us, and we want to ensure that everything is done to protect it,” a senior BSF official said on the condition of anonymity.