THEY ARE handed chits from a bowl and asked to come to the centre of the room if they believe the task mentioned can be done by both men and women. Hawaldar Vinod Kumar looks at the slip in his hand and takes a firm step forward. “Earn and invest money,” he reads out.
Kumar and other members of his team — 20 in all — at 28 Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) posted in Srinagar are undergoing a workshop designed to identify “vulnerable persons” and train them in appropriate responses to mental health concerns.
With the force recording 131 suicides over the last three years — the highest among Central Armed Police Forces — the first-of-its-kind initiative imparts training through activities and conversations around mental health and well-being. It also aims to sensitise the participants to gender issues, including “the burden of patriarchy”, so that they can connect better with their families back home.
Among the group is Hawaldar Kumar, 43, with 23 years of service. “This is as important as training for our duties as a soldier,” he says. Kumar has seen women investing in business and that is what made him walk to the centre of the room. “My wife works at home in Himachal stitching clothes. I work here but always remain worried about home. Through this training, I am learning to stay positive,” he says.
According to Kumar, he is learning to understand the meaning of vulnerability, so that if he sees a colleague in…