Shanghai’s lockdown has been dragging on for over a month and has sent the lives of more than 25 million residents into complete chaos.
Besides living under poor conditions, with a shortage of medical treatment, food supply, and staples, the Shanghainese have been undergoing severe mental health issues, including depression, due to their long-term detention.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) released on May 13 a survey polling 1,021 Shanghai residents on their psychological status. Results show that the Shanghainese are suffering physical and mental tension due to the epidemic measures.
Another survey issued by a WeChat public user named Zhao Luming shows that the upset index peaks at 3.7, exceeding 3.42 at the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. Meanwhile, the anxiety index reaches 3.6.
The poll’s result further exhibited that more than 40% of Shanghai residents have felt depressed with the frequent down-mood or hopeless status. They even show a lack of interest.
However, Wang, a local in downtown Shanghai, told the RFA that the actual proportion of people in depression must be much higher than 40%. He said,
“Forty percent? I think it must be about 80%. Everyone has a sense of resentment. My brain turns a little abnormal. I see our community as the animals detained in the zoo. They are all dumbfounded in lockdown.”
Previously, Chou Jianyin, Chief Physician of Shanghai Mental Health Center, confirmed similar information in an interview with the state media CCTV.
According to Chou, calls to the psychological hotline in April almost tripled compared with 3,000 calls the previous month, with 80% related to the epidemic.
Wang explained that the difficulty in reaching for a doctor and worries about the future life are those standing behind the residents’ depression.
He said that anyone who wants to see a doctor must have a certificate and a commitment letter issued by the neighborhood committee. This complex procedure creates extra pressure in case of an emergency.
Wang further added that temporary workers like those in his community have to live without wages during the lockdown. Even if the lockdown is lifted, no one will compensate them for the monthly loss, and their bosses could have gone bankrupt during the lockdown.
Li, who works in a large foreign company under little financial pressure, also had to seek psychological counseling after the 2-month confinement. He needs to relieve the inner stress caused by loneliness under the long-term lockdown.
Li said that if a person loses his freedom for a long time, he will have a lot of negative emotions, mainly anger.
Another Shanghai resident named Wang, who had resigned before the epidemic, said he initially had his own psychologist, who consulted him two or three weeks ago.
He has recently decided not to bother his psychologist because he found out that his doctor’s building is even under stricter control than his. Wang said, “He couldn’t go downstairs. I don’t want to bother him anymore because I think he’s also under huge, huge pressure.”
Wang added that he is not the only case living under extreme mental tension. He is very worried because he can see people and their families suffering due to the psychological impact. He said that, in that environment, it was difficult not to be depressed.
In an interview with RFA, Sun, a Jing’an District resident in Shanghai, shared her experience of a psychological breakdown that she suffered.
Sun said that she realized that she had symptoms of virus infection as early as May 1. However, her nucleic acid test report was released, leaving her in fear and despair. The person in charge promised to send someone to do a nucleic acid test for her on May 6, but no one has shown up. At the same time, her family members already had infection symptoms, and their antigen results also showed positive.
“I was really crazy on the night of May 6! I called 120 and made a lot of calls. I was really crazy, I lost control,” she said
Sun and her family members were finally transferred to an isolation site after she almost collapsed. However, the incident made her suspect that the testing company had deliberately delayed the reporting until more people were infected.
She said, “Like me, I am a typical case. I had a nucleic acid test on May 1, and it must be positive. I know that the symptoms are obvious. But my report has not come out for a long time. Okay, let’s wait until my whole family gets infected, then we all go for isolation together.”
Sun thinks the purpose is to increase positive cases, so then they can keep testing and earning more profits.
Shanghai’s forced lockdown has sent more than 60 colleges and universities in Shanghai into a closed management mode. As a result, 75% of 720,000 students have been badly affected.
Chen, a psychology teacher at a Shanghai university, said that severe lockdown measures and poor living conditions have led to depression among many students.
According to Chen, even when some schools provide their students with psychological counseling, this approach could not solve their mental health problems fundamentally.
He said, “Psychologically, these teachers can certainly provide them with some advice, but that cannot change the situation under this social circumstance. It may only be temporary.”
Serene, another teacher, working as a psychological counselor in an international middle school in Shanghai, confirmed his similar experience with Chen. He said the number of students with psychological problems has increased by 100%, although students have gone home with their parents in the past two months.
He said, “Conflicts mainly come between parents and children. There are greater difficulties in distance teaching and learning. In addition, there is a lack of social support and interaction between peers.”
The repeated changes in the government’s lockdown orders are considered one of the major causes of mental breakdown. They have made Shanghai residents live in great uncertainty for a long time.
Wang from Puxi said, “Starting today, one person per household can go out for no more than four hours at a time. I’ve been ‘fighting’ with my father for a long time because both he and I want to go out.”
He added that this is the first time he has finally been allowed to go out to a nearby supermarket in more than one month since the lockdown. Sharing with RFA, he said that he would buy a lot of stuff for fear that the Communist regime would impose the lockdown again at any time.
In response to Shanghai’s mandatory epidemic prevention measures, RFA reported that lawyer Liu Dali issued a document a few days ago. He requested Shanghai’s Standing Committee to review the legality and appropriateness of the epidemic prevention measures.
Like Liu, Tong Zhiwei, a legal scholar, also publicly criticized the government’s coercive measures in a document. He further urged the government to stop it immediately.
Their open letters were blocked shortly after the publication, while their Weibo accounts were also closed.
Tedros Adhanom, The Director-General of the World Health Organization, who rarely comments on China’s issues, has recently criticized China’s epidemic prevention policy. The Director called it “unsustainable.” As a result, his relevant remarks have disappeared on Chinese platforms.