The Border Security Force (BSF) has made it compulsory for all its security personnel and other paramilitary forces to undergo an annual mental health test to determine their well-being. The test aims at assessing the soldiers’ mental fitness and will also try to bring in corrective measures based on their scores. The annual tests that were conducted earlier were only determining soldiers’ physical fitness. However, now this additional test which will be introduced, will also look into the mental well-being of the security personnel and will also aim at containing suicides among the security forces, reported IE.
Apart from conducting the mental health tests, the BSF has also come up with other activities such as recreational time for soldiers, periodic meetings of on the pattern of Alcoholics Anonymous and other counselling sessions. These initiatives by the BSF are trying to create a platform for soldiers to share their personal stories and build a mechanism to try solve mental health issues. There is also an informal grievance addressing cell and mandatory interviews for all the people who would be leaving the Border Security Forces. There will also be mutual-aid groups and sessions called ‘Ghar Ki Baat’ where the BSF personnel can talk about their personal issues and family related problems.
The mental health test and other initiatives were designed after an extensive study and a year-long research. Around 200 BSF security personnel were interviewed and trained by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists from London. The psychiatrists drafted tests based on studies that they did on the pattern of suicides and other mental issues that the security personnel face. The programme conducted by the BSF is called ‘Holistic Well-Being Intervention’. The training programme will also give guidelines to the security personnel, chart out a good and healthy diet to follow and will also ensure that they get some recreational activity such as games, books, cinema and also television.