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Delhi Police to address mental illness among staff

According to the order issued from the office of the police commissioner, the names of all cops who may be suffering from mental illnesses have to be submitted before Friday.

delhi Updated: Jun 10, 2019 08:33 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
mental illness,Delhi police,depression
Last year, 15 police personnel took their lives. In 2017, there were 13 cases. (Sarang Gupta/HT)

Police stations across the city have begun a mega exercise to identify cops with signs of depression or other mental and psychological illnesses. Senior police officers privy to the development said the exercise is being conducted in the backdrop of increasing number of suicides by the city police personnel.

Last year, 15 police personnel took their lives. In 2017, there were 13 cases.

According to the order issued from the office of the police commissioner, the names of all cops who may be suffering from mental illnesses have to be submitted before Friday. A copy of the order, titled psychological orders (depression) in Delhi police, accessed by HT, reads: “A list of police officers posted under your control, having psychological disorders who need medical care and special attention must be provided by June 14. In case no reply is received from your office by the prescribed time limit, it would be presumed that there is no police officer suffering from depression. This may be given top priority.”

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A police officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “The first step is to identify such officers. We will then take help of a mental health institute to deal with such cases. It is important because some of them may be posted in key and sensitive posts. They carry weapons and are armed most of the time.”

The officer said that this is the first time that an exercise of such a scale — Delhi police has around 80,000 personnel — is being undertaken. “The source of depression could be many, ranging from long hours of work to family problems or financial problems. After identifying [the problem], one could also study why the police personnel are depressed to conduct an assessment on why cops are taking lives. This will help us in making policy changes,” the officer added.

Rajat Mitra, a clinical psychologist who has assisted Delhi Police for over a decade to understand crimes and criminals, said exercises like these are conducted by police forces in most parts of the modern world. “Junior police officers are exposed to secondary trauma. They are part of the worst hour of a person’s lives and are always exposed to the underbelly of the society. When one is continuously faced with such crimes, it gradually begins to affect them. In our police forces, instead of addressing the issue, the juniors are merely told to be strong. Emotions get bottled up this way. There is no release mechanism.”

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Mitra added that though the move on part of Delhi Police is encouraging, the depressed officers need to be addressed with maturity. “Such officers need support. Having a mature counsellor who understands how to deal with the them will help.”

At least five Delhi police personnel have taken their lives this year. They shot themselves using the service pistol or were found hanging. Preliminary probe in all cases showed the men were depressed because of problems in their marital life, financial disputes, or stress.

First Published: Jun 10, 2019 07:14 IST