Armed Forces & Mental Health.

An Occupational Hazard.

When it comes to proclaiming their admiration for the Indian Army, our political parties tend to outdo each other. The Armed Forces have the duty of protecting their borders against foreign enemies and keeping their motherland safe even if it takes the ultimate sacrifice. One would think that in this situation, the biggest enemy a soldier would face is the enemy on the other side of the border but it is not so. The soldier would think that the person across the border with a gun always keeping an eye on all his movements is what is most likely to kill him but it is not so.


In the period of 2007 – 2010, 208 soldiers lost their lives fighting, while 368 soldiers committed suicide. The biggest enemy that a soldier has is not the enemy soldier, but his own mind. Minister of Defence, India in 2015 revealed that at least 413 defence personnel have committed suicide since 2012. 334 cases were reported from the army alone during the period. The Air force was next with 67 suicides and the Navy reported 12 such incidents.

The Stressors.

A soldier goes through various stressors in his/her life. A civilian’s life is filled with periods of stress which generally pass with time. Unfortunately, for a soldier, their whole life is spent in a long period of stress which the mind sometimes gets used to, and then, sometimes they don’t. In a study conducted by IIM, Bangalore, It was found that the major stressors that a soldier faces which have negative impact range from lack of control at work, role conflict, inadequate awareness about profession, workload and job pressure to indifferent organizational attitude.


We rarely think about this but a soldier is a human as well who has feelings of attachment, sorrow, loss, stress and depression. The Army has a rigid structure which rarely allows lower-ranked soldiers to speak freely and being away from family for extended periods has a negative impact as well.

The Solutions.

Among all this talk of mental health, one thing that needs to be mentioned is how effective the rotation policy of the Indian Army has turned out to be in keeping soldiers have a fresher mind. When compared to the US Army individuals, who have spent extended periods in foreign and alien locations like Afghanistan, Indian soldiers in Kashmir have a lower rate of reported stress and depressive feelings.


That said, it is also important that the number of mental health professional in field is increased. It is sad to see that at times like these when our armed forces are in dire need of not only modernization but also improved facilities and access to healthcare, that we see the government cribbing over giving them the necessary share of the defense budget which would be the most basic requirement to take any concrete steps.

This was a piece where I didn’t even mention PTSD and how devastating it can be to a soldier and even without it the situation doesn’t seem any more bright.

You can help our soldiers by donating to foundations of soldier welfare. War wounded foundation and bharat ke veer are two of them. It will help reduce the burden on soldiers once they retire and play a part in their wellness.

We could talk about respecting the soldiers all we want but if we are not doing anything to improve their mental health stability, we might as well be killing them with our own hands.



Rajeev always struggled to make friends. All the friends he had in the past had deserted him. He didn’t wish to talk to new people. He saw things in absolutes and had anger management problems. He had also harmed himself and had thoughts about hurting others. He was lonely. He didn’t have anyone to talk to. His mind told him that he needed new friends but it also told him it wasn’t worth the effort. His mind was conflicted and Rajeev was being pulled apart in the middle. What is he struggling with? How much worse could it get? What is a solution? Find out tomorrow on

31 Replies to “Armed Forces & Mental Health.”

  1. Great topic Arjun. I have been shocked and deeply saddened to read the news of arms jawans going on a killing spree due to depression. The high time people realise the seriousness and take measures to curb this.

    1. Its a true menace Akshata. Our rotation policy has born some fruit but we still have too high a suicide rate. The stress and training that they are under takes a toll. Our army system could do with a few small alterations as well.

  2. Arrjun, by writing this post, you have highlighted the most neglected side of our brave-hearts, our soldiers! Wish we civilians could do something for them.
    And ‘m curious know whats going on with Rajeev..

    1. We can actually do some small stuff for them. Thank them for their service when we see them. Let them know of our respect. It won’t solve the immediate problems that they face but it might distract them for a while which would be helpful. The story of Rajeev continues this week 🙂

    2. You can also donate to war wounded foundation or bharat ke veer to ensure a more secure and safe post retirement career for our soldiers

  3. I respect your choice of topic, Arjun. My Uncle was in the CRPF an we have heard stories of how lonely soldiers get, forcing them to behave erratically and also harm themselves
    Mental Illness is a serious issue that is being brushed under the carpet. Glad you’re shining the light on it.

    1. This whole month is dedicated to mental health. There are so many people around us who have issues in their life. We can shine some light on them and that is the first step to helping them

  4. A very unique choice of theme. Mental health in itself is still considered a taboo that is not supposed to be discussed openly. To consider our soldiers who are subject to such extreme circumstances not feel any emotions to the ongoings is ridiculous. I’m really glad that you are highlighting an issue that deserves sensitive and sensible handling. Coming back tomorrow for more.

    1. Thank you Sonia. You can help our soldiers by donating to foundations of soldier welfare. War wounded foundation and bharat ke veer are two of them. It will help reduce the burden on soldiers once they retire and play a part in their wellness.

  5. This thought had never crossed my mind Arjun. Thank you so much for bringing it to fore. I have family who are from the army, but have always seen them as brave hearts, happy-go-lucky people. I can only imagine how hard it is for them to brave the trying circumstances they and their families are put through.
    Great post.

    1. Thank you Natasha. It is often weird for us normal folk to see the human side of people around us. We often see the role before the human. This month is dedicated to throwing some light on our human sides

  6. As the daughter of a retired Armyman, I’m really glad that you picked this topic for a post. Men in the armed forces truly have to deal with extremely trying conditions, and at the end of day one tends to forget that these are also normal men and (now) women too. Mental health unfortunately still tends to be something of a taboo subject in our country. It would be interesting to know if there is any open data available about this, because the services tend to keep this pretty much a closed topic.

    1. There were a couple of social psychological researches I referred to here. I’ll send them over to your mail through your blog.i might need a reminder of it though

  7. Your theme itself is really something which I am looking forward to read. Army personnel undergo so much pressure and on the top of that feeling depressed and sad is surely going to be hard for them. Waiting to know more about Rajeev.

    1. It’s the feeling of nothingness and at the same time anxiety of failure that makes it the hardest for soldiers

    1. The state of veterans post retirement is truly a shameful one, even in the most developed nations. There are a few foundations set up for their wellness and we should contribute as much as we can to them.

  8. While reading this post, some glimpses of movie American Sniper featuring Braadly Cooper came to memory. How true, soldiers go through some severe mental stress combating enemy and rehabilitating back to regular.
    Your topic for A-Z is quite brave and unique. All the best.

    1. Thank you Dipika. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to PTSD on this post. I first had to establish that soldiers too are human and can go through human turmoils. This month is dedicated to more awareness about mental health and it’s aspects.

    1. Rather than being sad, I think it’s understandable. Soldiers are humans too and we shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations from them. Even superheroes struggle at times.

  9. Great post Arjun. And kudos to you for the in depth research. As a soldier’s wife and having stayed in the valley I realize the importance of mental wellbeing of our jawan. Will bookmark this for my husband to read as well.Good work!

    1. Thank you Meha! And a special thanks to your husband for hiss service. It takes a lot of willpower and resilience to be an army wife and I salute your and your husband’s dedication ☺️

  10. Your post has hit close to my heart as few of my closed ones are in the job. I have seen them stressed & can’t thank them enough for their service. Thanks a lot for taking up the issue.

    1. I know how big of a secret it is in the army and the society in general. The first part of solving a problem is accepting that there is one.

    1. Glad you liked it. We often forget that soldiers are humans as well and need compassion and support.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: