The CRPF will conduct interviews and psychometric tests of its personnel to assess their abilities and behavioural traits before they are deputed on special tasks like anti-Naxal operations.

The country’s largest paramilitary force has for the first time decided to hire a full-time psychologist not only to undertake special mental health classes but also to treat a variety of stress-related disorders among its about 3-lakh- strong force working in stressful conditions in some of the toughest combat zones in the country.

The 77-year-old force, which was raised in 1939 as the Crown Representative’s Police during the British rule, will groom personality and impart psychological training to its men and women tasked with carrying out various activities in the internal security domain of the country like conducting anti- Naxal operations, and counter-insurgency and policing duties in Jammu and Kashmir.

b’A representational image | Source: Reuters’

“This is the first time that the force has decided to hire a full-time clinical psychologist. The doctor will be part of the medical set up of the force and is being brought to tackle issues like suicides, depression, anxiety and similar disorders among the personnel who render some very stressful duties across the country,” a senior CRPF officer said. A charter prepared in this regard by the Central Reserve Police Force has been accessed by PTI.

The psychologist will have to “assess the need, abilities or behaviour using a variety of methods including psychometric tests, interviews and (through) direct observation of behaviour”. The charter talks of “devising and monitoring appropriate treatment programmes including therapy, counselling or advice to the patient having psychological disorders or who need psychological support”.

b’A representational image | Source: PTI’

The officer said the need to have a full-time psychologist in the force was felt as some theatres of operation, where its troops are deployed, witness regular bloodshed, deaths and high levels of stress due to the nature of their duty. “For example, in the Maoist-affected areas, the force has seen many deaths and killings and keeping the morale of the men high is the most important challenge for the commanders.

The psychologist will help them undertake these measures by using various medical techniques,” the officer added. Such occupational hazards, he said, are accompanied by a lack of good food, water and several other such essentials in hard posting areas and to keep the men motivated, a psychological analysis and refresher classes are important, he said. 

b’A representational image | Source: PTI’

It is for this reason that the psychologist will also offer “therapy and treatment for difficulties relating to metal and health issues such as anxiety, depression, addiction, social and inter-personal problems and challenging behaviour” by not only holding special sessions but also travelling to such hard areas.

As per the charter, the medical specialist will provide consultation to all jawans and officers of the CRPF and encourage a “psychological approach in their work, training and personality grooming of personnel for behaviour in public”. Selection of special squads of the force that secure the Parliament, VIPs and deployed on foreign missions, duties under the United Nations (UN) flag and task-specific battalions like the jungle warfare guerrilla force CoBRA will also see personnel being “screened” by psychologists before being chosen for these units. The lead internal security central force of the country was re-named as CRPF in 1949, two years after Independence.

(Feature image source: PTI)