At least 200 people in Hong Kong sought psychological assistance from organizations which provide counseling services for emotional or psychological distress amid the ongoing protest over changes to the extradition bill.
Three non-profit groups in Hong Kong said they received a total of about 200 calls from members of the public seeking psychological support over the past few days, Sky Post reported.
The Hong Kong Red Cross had set up a psychological support hotline to assist the needy as clashes happened between protesters and police last Wednesday. A total of 74 calls were received up to 8pm on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Group received 60 calls from people aged from 12 to 30 asking for help as they felt unstable emotionally.
Hsu Siu-man, a supervisor at the Federation, said the majority of callers were distressed by news programs or video clips that circulated on social media after protesters clashed with police on Wednesday. Others said they had similar feelings after the chief executive Carrie Lam’s press conference on Saturday.
On Saturday night, people became emotional again after learning that a man who had held a banner for many hours opposing the extradition bill fell to his death from the roof of a shopping mall. Callers said they felt shocked, sad and behaved in an emotional manner, saying they could not accept this kind – that a Hong Kong person had lost his life due to the controversial bill.
Opposing views, anger
Meanwhile, some young people called the hotlines because they had opposing views to their friends and family members on the issue, or they felt alone and “helpless” because they did not know how to respond to those who questioned protesters’ actions.
Timothy To, executive director of Post Crisis Counseling Network, said 60% of the 62 calls they received were classed as serious. Most of the callers – 70% – were female.
A number of civil servants and protesters called to express anger and upset after police fired rubber bullets and pepper spray at young protesters.
Meanwhile, an NGO also set up an on-site booth to help people who felt the need to talk through their feelings at this time.
At the rally on Sunday, more than 10 volunteers from Breakthrough Centre set up booths outside Pacific Place in Admiralty and talk to protesters who needed assistance at the site.
Many protesters queued up outside the shopping mall where the man died and sought to pay tribute with flowers or to leave a message of sympathy to the deceased. Many protesters were seen crying, weeping and needed friends or volunteers to pacify them.
On Monday morning, Harcourt Road in Admiralty was open again to traffic after protesters stayed overnight following the rally that drew about two million people on Sunday.
There was little police presence on Harcourt Road. Police negotiators were sent out, instead to ask protesters to leave the area.
Different groups of protesters stopped occupying Harcourt Road and left at around 11am. They went to Tamar Park and gathered outside the Legislative Council complex to consider what action they may take in the future.
They said they did not plan to retake Harcourt Road, but were resting at the park and waiting for more people to join and decide what to do next.