Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Gatekeeper Model to prevent suicides in prisons


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gatekeeper Model

Mains level: Prison reforms in India

In a bid to prevent suicides triggered by mental health issues in prisons across the country, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, has recommended the “Gatekeeper Model”.

What is the ‘Gatekeeper Model’?

  • It is a model where selected inmates, trained to identify prisoners at risk of suicide, would refer them to treatment or supportive services.
  • Prisoners with mental disorders will be regularly assessed for the severity of the suicidal risk and also put on regular and supervised medication.
  • To address the prisoner’s mental health needs, the correctional facility would have links to community-based initiatives like the District Mental Health Programme.

Buddy system

  • The concept of a ‘Buddy System’ — social support through trained prisoners called “buddies” or “listeners” — was found to have a good impact on the well-being of suicidal prisoners.
  • Periodic telephone conversations with friends and family would also foster support.

Why such a move?

  • Emphasizing the mental health of prisoners, the Ministry said incarcerated people could face many vulnerabilities during the pandemic, which might impact their mental wellbeing.
  • The prison staff was also working under tremendous pressure and faced challenges in performing their duty while safeguarding themselves from contracting the infection.

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