Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mental Health: What numbers don’t tell us

GS paper 2

Syllabus: Government policies and interventions for the development of various sectors, Structure, function and organisation of judiciary etc


Directions: Important for mains, can be used as an example for issues with Indian prisons


Source: The Hindu



  • The National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) Prison Statistics India Report:
    • 9,180 prisoners with mental illness, 150 deaths by suicide, and five prisoners with schizophrenia and epilepsy have died.
  • India’s National Mental Health Policy, 2014: It considers prisoners a class of people vulnerable to mental ill-health.


Key Highlights:

  • Maximum prisoners: Undertrial population makes up for over 70% of the prison population.
  • Under trials: More than half of those with mental illness were undertrials
  • Project 39A’s report: On mental health and the death penalty, Deathworthy, revealed that over 60% of death row prisoners had a current episode of mental illness.


Lack of solutions:

  • NRCB data: It gives us data confirming the categorisation, but it does not take us much further towards crafting solutions.


Aspects of incarceration(confined to prisons)that cause distress:

  • Loss of liberty
  • Loss of close contact with loved ones
  • Loss of autonomy


Steps that need to be taken:

  • All-encompassing approach: Move beyond the treatment of individuals and towards identifying the social and underlying determinants of mental health in prisons.
  • Social and structural: We need to look at mental health in prisons from a social and structural perspective as well.
  • Reform, rehabilitation or reintegration(3Rs): They are meant to make prisoners confident in their lives, their choices and their ability to take decisions and be responsible and accountable for it.


Insta Links:

Prison reforms


Mains links:

Q. Though the Human Rights Commissions have contributed immensely to the protection of human rights in India, yet they have failed to assert themselves against the mighty and powerful. Analyzing their structural and practical limitations, suggest remedial measures. (UPSC 2021)


Prelims Links: