Months of intense conflicts marked by violence from both police and protesters have torn at the social fabric and frayed familial ties, while what many see as an increasingly repressive political environment has heightened people’s sense of fear, helplessness, and anger. One local writer noted that there is now an entire generation in Hong Kong “defined and united by trauma.” And the protests have become all-encompassing, no longer confined to the streets and transforming political resistance into the new normal.

Indeed, the researchers found that those who spend more than two hours a day monitoring local socio-political news on social media was “strongly associated” with probable depression and suspected PTSD.

The mental health effects of the current protests are much more pronounced than from the 2014 Umbrella Movement, also known as Occupy Central, the last major pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The prevalence of PTSD symptoms is now more six times higher than after the 2014 protests, rising from 5% to 32%.

The researchers wrote that the mental health crisis “will require substantial increases in service surge capacity in both the health and social sectors, and in real time.” Yet they worry that those who need help most won’t get it, as fewer than half of affected individuals said they would seek professional care.

This could be exacerbated by people’s new wariness of the public health system, especially after police arrested several protesters as they were in hospital receiving medical treatment, raising suspicions that the Hospital Authority was leaking data to law enforcement officers—an accusation that the authority has denied.

Many protesters have instead sought informal care through an underground network of psychiatrists, physicians, and traditional Chinese medical practitioners (paywall).

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.