Lockdowns Aggravated the ‘Fragile Mental Health’ of the Chinese’

The Lancet medical journal took a pause from its progressive pandering this week to criticize China’s harsh Coronavirus lockdowns, insisting that the measures have intensified China’s already serious mental health problems.

The June 11 essay, attributed to the journal’s editorial board, notes that China’s lockdowns over the past two years “have often been the most stringent and frequent” among the varying national responses to the pandemic.

“Control policies, including school closures and stay-at-home orders, combined with the stress of the pandemic itself, will have exacerbated the already fragile mental health of many Chinese people,” the essay asserts.

A 2020 national survey on psychological distress conducted in China during the COVID-19 epidemic revealed that more than a third of respondents (35 percent) “experienced distress, including anxiety and depression,” the Lancet observed.

School closures as well were associated with “adverse mental health symptoms and behaviours among children and adolescents,” the essay added, and even as restrictions have been lifted, “widespread anxiety” continues over both adapting to a return to some normalcy and fear that the virus will return.

A resident looks out at the street from their window during the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown in the Jing'an district in Shanghai on May 5, 2022. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

A resident looks out at the street from their window during the coronavirus lockdown in the Jing’an district in Shanghai, China, on May 5, 2022. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The current mental health situation is not an anomaly, the editors assert, since it “plays out against the wider backdrop of mental disorders in China,” which is ongoing.

“Mental health has long been neglected in China, partly because of a deep-rooted cultural stigma,” the Lancet said, and discussing mental health “remains taboo among many communities.”

Families of patients worry “about how a disclosure of mental illness might damage their reputation,” and fear of being ostracized “will undoubtedly disincentivise people with mental disorders from seeking care,” the essay added.

In a rare direct chastisement of Beijing, the Lancet notes that China’s anti-coronavirus policies have been “extreme,” occasioning massive negative side-effects.

“The Chinese Government has vigourously defended its dynamic zero COVID-19 strategy,” the editors state. “But China’s lockdowns have had a huge human cost.”

This cost will “continue to be paid in the future, with the shadow of mental ill-health adversely affecting China’s culture and economy for years to come,” the journal warns. “The Chinese Government must act immediately if it is to heal the wound its extreme policies have inflicted on the Chinese people.”

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