As many as 7,000 inmates of Tihar Jail have been provided counselling by professional mental health experts as part of 'Project Samarthan' which was launched by the prison administration in April last year with an aim to reduce suicide cases, officials said on Friday.
The Delhi Prison Administration in collaboration with an NGO - Mental Health Foundation and mentored by AIIMS had started the intensive counselling services on April 16 last year.
The Tihar Jail is the second jail after the Pennsylvania Correction Services who are using this technique, they said.
The tools of the project has been developed on the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
"As soon as the inmate enters the jail premises, he starts feeling mental pressure. Sometimes, they become depressed and they stop eating or sleeping. Some of them become aggressive and some of them become very introvert," said Ajay Kashyap, Director General of Tihar Prison.
So far approximately 7,000 inmates have been assessed and given proper counselling as per their psychological needs, a statement said.
The suicide rate has also gone down by up to 50 per cent, the statement said adding that while from May 2017 to April 2018, the number of suicides was 8, from May 2018 to April 2019 there were five suicides.
The mental and behavioral disorders among the prisoners are a major challenge and this sometimes culminates into suicide, murder or aggressive outbursts with other inmates or jail staff, it said.
Through this process, the jail authority has witnessed a decrease in the violent cases, disobedience of the instruction of the jail staff and the suicide cases, it said.
In last few years, prevalence of disorders have markedly increased in prisons due to many reasons like overcrowding, isolation from social network, insecurity about future, delayed judicial proceeding and poor mental health services in prison. Increased risk of suicide in prison is unfortunately a common manifestation of the cumulative effects of these factors, the statement added.