Mumbai police has been doing everything they can to maintain the law and order in the city and are vigilante towards security. ‘Sadarkshanaya Khalanigrahanaya’ meaning ‘to protect the good and to destroy the evil’ is their motto. But this efficiency comes with a price. According to a study, done by the School of Health Systems Studies in Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, about 55.5 per cent of Mumbai policemen are suffering from high-level of occupational stress.
The study revealed that there is a significant negative impact of occupational stress on mental health status of the respondents. It also stated that 55.8 per cent of the policemen have adapted a negative coping style such consumption of alcohol and smoking to overcome occupational stress.
The study was conducted by Sonam S Lavtepatil, a student in TISS, as part of her academic dissertation and was supervised by associate professor of TISS, Bal Rakshase. While talking about the significance of the study, professor Rakshase said, “The study is very relevant in the present scenario. Police have to work under a lot of pressure. Various aspects of occupational stress have been discussed in the study. Policy makers should take this study into consideration and design policy to make them relatively stress-free.”
The study highlights role overload, environmental factors and lack of facilities as the three major causes responsible for high-level of occupational stress among policemen. “Many policemen contact me for consultation. The odd and long working hours, treatment given by seniors, professional stagnation such occupational difficulties affect their mental health. In addition to this, they have to handle personal problems. This stress adversely affects their performance, behaviour towards their juniors and subordinates and messes up with their personal life as well. These factors may push them towards alcohol addiction,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, a consultant psychiatrist.
The study stated that the alarming number of 55.8 per cent of the policemen have adapted negative coping style, including alcohol dependence and substance abuse. The occupational stress is taking a toll on their mental health as well. “The base of the police profession is to suspect. And being skeptical is a part of their job. Also, they have to adopt certain persona while on duty, which may differ from their true nature. Additionally, the pressure of work performance also matters. It affects their mental health adversely and leads to occupational mental illness,” said Dr Kaminidevi Bhoyar, honorary psychiatric counsellor for Mumbai police. She has advised them to maintain a boundary in personal and professional life which will help to reduce stress.
Experts have emphasised on the strong mechanism to be put in effect to reduce the stress on policemen. “The department should take the stress factor on police seriously. They should launch a programme to make their mind stress-free,” added Dr Mundada.