The Indian Army has developed a cellphone application for its soldiers posted in the remote and front areas along the borders to register their grievances and seek counselling from medical and psychological experts for various problems.
“We have taken a series of measures to reduce the stress level among the soldiers and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs). Among the measures is the cellphone app that they can use for getting their grievances resolved. If someone has a particular problem, he can use the app and upload the issue,” Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) Lt-Gen. Bipin Puri said.
Speaking to TOI on the sideline of the commissioning ceremony at the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) here, Lt-Gen. Puri said the AFMS was equally focused on promoting yoga, mediation and counselling.
“The stress issue is not so alarming. We believe that we have been able to take stock of it and has handled effectively,” he said, adding that AFMS remained an attractive career option for students as they could practice evidence-based medicine which is very important for them.
On the role of regimental medical officers (RMOs), he said, “These doctors are responsible for the health of the entire battalion. In fact, the doctors raise the morale of the troops as the latter get confidence that they will get all kind of medical facilities when required. We tell the young medical officers about their possible role once they get posted in the border areas.”
AFMC Commandant Air Marshal C K Ranjan said the college had, for the first time, introduced a medical capsule for its cadets to apprise them about the actual medical requirements of the forces. “This is beyond their academic (MBBS) syllabus,” he said.
“Understanding the requirements of the armed forces was imperative for us to appraise the medical students about their future roles in the very beginning of their careers. Therefore, we designed the course where experienced medical experts deliver lectures on various medical services required in high altitude areas, submarines and for fighter pilots,” Air Marshal Ranjan said.
According to the defence ministry records, over 100 personnel die every year due to suicide or fratricide (killing a fellow soldier or superior) over stress–related issues. At least 310 soldiers, including nine officers and 19 JCOs, committed suicide since 2014, while 11 cases of fratricide were also reported in 2017.
The army authorities have been taking a plethora of measures to help the soldiers reduce stress. Among the measures is provision of better quality of facilities such as clothing, food, accommodation, travel facilities, schooling, recreation and periodic welfare meeting. Yoga and meditation are used as a tool for stress management.
Besides, projects such as ‘Milap’ and ‘Sahyog’ have been institutionalized by the Army in Northern & Eastern Commands to reduce stress among the troops. A ‘Mansik Sahayata Helpline’ has been established by the army and air force to ensure professional counselling.