Why our soldiers are so stressed

Long hours of service coupled with a lack of adequate sleep and rest, the attitude of senior leaders and long deployment in conflict zones are at the root of high stress levels in the armed forces

The Center said 819 members of the armed forces have died by suicide in the past five years, with the Indian Army alone accounting for 642 such cases.

Minister of State for Defense Ajay Bhatt, in a written response to a question from the Rajya Sabha, said the Indian Air Force had reported 148 suicide cases, while the Indian Navy had seen 29.

The minister’s response on Monday follows a question about the number of service members and veterans who have committed suicide in the past five years.

Nor is it a new concern.

According India time1,100 Indian defense personnel died by suicide between 2010 and 2019, with the military recording most of the cases.

The military has lost more personnel each year to suicides, fratricides, and other non-combat incidents than in the line of duty.

The country’s armed forces have lost more than 100 soldiers each year for non-combat reasons, with a soldier dying almost every three days by suicide or the attack of a brother soldier.

But why are our armed forces so stressed? Let’s take a closer look:

Long hours on duty, lack of sleep

A piece in The quintet noted long hours of duty, sometimes up to 15 and 16 hours a day, as the main high stressor.

The play also blamed the lack of adequate and continuous sleep due to extended duty hours.

Representative image. Reuters

The situation is aggravated by the frequent and prolonged withdrawal of troops for non-essential functions, the article notes. In state assembly elections in 2021 and 2022, nearly a third of the Border Force will serve for nearly three months.

It is therefore not surprising that CAF troops suffer from high stress as they have to deal with sleep disruptions throughout their deployment, the article notes.

According News9a study conducted in 2019-2020 by the United Service Institution of India (USI) showed that more than half of army soldiers are “under severe stress” and noted a “significant increase in stress levels” among Indian Army personnel over the past two decades due to operational and non-operational reasons.

Deployment in conflict areas

News9 research quoted by USI Senior Researcher Col. AK Mor showing that “prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to a CI (counter-insurgency)/CT (counter-terrorism) environment has been l ‘one of the contributing factors to increased stress levels’.

A piece in The front line noted that academics seem inclined to link the trend to active duty stress and trauma of soldiers in operations “since most of these incidents take place in Jammu and Kashmir or the North Eastern region”.

It is widely believed that deployment in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North Eastern region is likely to have an impact on the mental health of security personnel, the article notes.

India time noted that soldiers posted forward or in “field areas” are under tremendous stress because they are unable to deal with the issues facing their families back home, which can range from property disputes and harassment by antisocial elements to financial and marital problems.

“Previously, news from the home front would come in periodically. Now they are getting 24/7 updates via cell phones which has certainly contributed to the increased stress levels,” a senior officer told the newspaper.

Leadership problems, apathy from authorities

The USI study also blamed army leaders for low junior morale.

He said some of the major organizational causes of officer stress were “deficiencies in the quality of leadership, overstretched commitments, inadequate resources, frequent travel, lack of fairness and transparency in assignments and promotions. , degradation of wages and status, inadequate promotion pathways. , lack of motivation of subordinates, non-granting of leaves, indifferent attitude of civil servants and short command terms.

More than 800 suicide cases in the Armed Forces Why our soldiers are so stressed

Representative image. ANI

According The quintetthe expectation of zero error management in service is also to blame.

Senior management, unaware of the realities on the ground, fail to realize that factors such as terrain, weather conditions, crime patterns and lack of troops make performing a flawless task a daunting one, notes l ‘article.

“Dominion systems remain labor-intensive with outdated technology. The full potential of intelligence efforts as a force multiplier to reduce troop burden has not been realized. Better technology and intelligence efforts will go a long way in reducing stress and pressure on troops,” the article added.

India time noted that the Institute for Defense Psychological Research (DIPR) blamed “the perceived humiliation and harassment, beyond their professional and family causes, by their superiors, which often served as the final trigger for the suicide of the soldiers.

Talk to India time, a senior officer said police and civil administrations in districts across the country are largely unresponsive to the grievances of soldiers and their families. “A battalion commander used to be able to speak to the civil authorities in the district to resolve the personal problems of his soldiers, but this is no longer the case,” the officer added.

“The armed forces are constantly evolving”

“For the management of stress and suicides in the services, the armed forces are constantly developing measures to improve stress relief mechanisms. An elaborate mental health program has been formulated and has been in vogue since 2009,” said Bhatt.

He said various mechanisms to observe and identify armed forces personnel with issues such as depression and suicidal tendencies are in place.

“Personnel at high risk of stress are identified and counseled by unit commanders, regimental doctors and junior leaders according to established procedures,” the minister said.

He said all personnel returning to units after leave are interviewed, advised and medically examined by regimental doctors.

“Stress management sessions are conducted by commanders and psychiatrists at all major stations. Counseling is an intrinsic component of 23 Army psychiatric centers, manned by well-trained and qualified psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse assistants” , added Bhatt.

The Rajya Sabha secretariat posted the questions on its website on Tuesday.

With contributions from agencies

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