Often seen as rough and tough, cops in the Indian national capital and several other states have been writing to senior police officials regarding their psychological and physical problems. They say they are experiencing these in view of the pandemic caused by the contagious COVID-19 disease.
In one such instance, a 42-year-old sub-inspector posted in Delhi said that he hasn’t been able to properly sleep since 17 June, when his elderly mother died of COVID-19.
Despite testing negative for COVID-19 later, the fear of him and his family members contracting the disease has been causing repeated anxiety and panic attacks.
In a separate case, a female Delhi Police official shared that despite being confident about the measures taken by law enforcement to prevent the infection, she is afraid of the disease.
“We have been taking all the measures and performing our duties with utmost importance during the pandemic. But there is always a fear of contracting the virus. Apart from the duties, we look after our families also. By any chance, if we contract the virus our family members especially kids in the family would too”, she said.
“With the government’s medical guidelines mentioning ways to protect ourselves from the virus, I have developed a habit of washing my hands every 5 minutes, as the pandemic has affected me psychologically. I have not been able to sleep or eat properly over the past few months”, the police constable said.
According to police officials, these people are not the only law enforcement officials facing distress amid the pandemic. In Delhi alone, over 3,500 police personnel are seeking professional help.
“To help our own men, we had distributed forms to the personnel asking them to share their problems. Several thousand personnel wrote back to us in which several hundred described their problems in details and sought help from us. The entire process is confidential to respect the privacy of police personnel seeking help”, said Sanjay Bhatia, deputy commissioner of police (Central District).
Delhi Police recently launched a campaign titled “Healthy Police, Happy Police”, which aims at the physical and mental health issues of their personnel.
“A panel of doctors is working with us who will help these personnel through counselling sessions and guide them for medical assistance. All the cases will be dealt professionally”, Bhatia said.
A psychologist and one of the doctors taking the counselling sessions in Delhi, Kartik Gupta, said the fear for their families is one of the major issues leading them into anxiety.
“Keeping themselves away from their loved ones during the pandemic has led to emotional problems and they have no one to talk to. Another major issue that has come up in most of the cases is sleep difficulty. A lot of the personnel require psychotherapy and proper follow-up sessions”, Gupta said.
Similarly, the Haryana Police are setting up counselling centres for sessions for their personnel. A senior police officer in Gurugram city in Haryana said that they are trying to build rapport and make the personnel feel comfortable to share their feelings and thoughts.
“We are trying to treat them (the staff) keeping their tough long working hours and conditions in mind”, the officer said.