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Uniformed Forces and Mental Health


The government needs to take immediate action to address mental health issues in the uniformed services.


GS II: Health and Education

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is mental wellness?
  2. Reasons for the Prevalence of Mental Health Issues in the Uniformed Forces
  3. Impact of the Rising Mental Health issues among the forces

What is mental wellness?

  • Emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing all fall under the umbrella of mental wellness.
  • It affects behaviour, perception, and cognition.
  • It also affects how they cope with stress, interact with others, and make decisions.

Reasons for the Prevalence of Mental Health Issues in the Uniformed Forces

Tightly Structured Hierarchy:
  • Uniformed forces are organised in a command-and-control hierarchy that is quite well-defined.
  • A senior officer serves as the reporting authority for his or her immediate junior, who is responsible for carrying out tasks with the help of the troops under his or her command.
  • The structure promotes responsibility, clarity of roles, and discipline, and the hierarchy is rarely violated.
  • However, it often turns into being unkind, particularly to people who are unable to express their own problems in a suitable setting.
Stress is not addressed:
  • Uniformed forces who exhibit indicators of mental stress are not given due attention.
  • People who express an issue are labelled as weak and considered as avoiding life’s challenges.
  • Subordinate personnel in a uniformed environment do not want to come out as weak since the “macho man” stereotype drags them down.
Less Recognition for their Achievements:
  • About 85% of state police and CAPFs are constabularies.
  • These employees carry out their tasks as instructed by their superiors.
  • They typically continue to operate in the organization’s shadows, receiving less credit for their successes and experiencing more persecution when things go wrong.
Tend towards Alcoholism:
  • Staff members frequently turn to alcoholism and drug misuse as a coping mechanism for the challenging nature of the work.
  • In these situations, defaulters are penalised in accordance with the law and appropriate departmental action is also taken.

Impact of the Rising Mental Health issues among the forces

  • Although the armed forces have a positive reputation and are a very respectable profession, growing mental health problems among the ranks of the military may deter newer generations from enlisting.
  • Growing mental health problems among the troops might demoralise them and have a negative effect on how they do their everyday business.
  • According to a study by United Service Institution of India (USI), suicides, fratricides, and adverse incidents kill more Army men than enemy or terrorist activity

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023