Mental Health During Unrest: How to Cope With Anti-CAA Protests?
Why has India’s collective mental health taken a dip during the anti-CAA protests? How can you preserve your peace of mind during protests and unrest? We spoke to psychologists and protesters to understand.
Why has India’s collective mental health taken a dip during the anti-CAA protests? How can you preserve your peace of mind during protests and unrest? We spoke to psychologists and protesters to understand.(Illustration: Kamran Akhtar/ The Quint)

Mental Health During Unrest: How to Cope With Anti-CAA Protests?

The CAA protests have had a visible impact across the country, with people mobilising in large numbers to protest peacefully. At the same time, violence has been reported from many parts of the country, with police using bullets, tear gas and lathi charges against protesters.

As the political and social unrest continues, people’s mental health has taken a turn for the worse.

So today we explain how and why your mental health suffers at times like this, and how you can take care of yourself.

Thousands of people across the country have been protesting against NPR, along with CAA and NRC.
Thousands of people across the country have been protesting against NPR, along with CAA and NRC.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Guests:

  • Srividya Rajaram, Psychologist
  • Siddhant Sachdeva, Student, IPU
  • Shalini Pratap Singh, Student, Delhi University
  • Zijah Sherwani, 26, Journalist, The Quint
  • Ataliq Khan, 23, Journalist, The Quint
  • Fabeha Syed, 33, Journalist, The Quint
  • Garvita Khybri, 29, Journalist, The Quint
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‘I Have Nightmares That My Family is Getting Attacked’

A number of people The Quint spoke to mentioned that they were more paranoid, anxious or worried by what they saw and heard around them. While many said that attending the protests made them feel empowered, they also said they felt uncertain when they think about the future.

Siddhant Sachdeva had been attending the protests regularly since they began in December, till it started taking a toll on his mental and physical health.

“Not just mentally, but I got physically exhausted too. For the first week of the protests I got caught up and didn’t get the time or the energy to look after my health. It caught up eventually.”
Siddhant Sachdeva, 20, Student
Protesters carrying the Triclour display placards and raise slogans during a rally against CAA, NRC and NPR, in Mumbai on Wednesday, 8 January.
Protesters carrying the Triclour display placards and raise slogans during a rally against CAA, NRC and NPR, in Mumbai on Wednesday, 8 January.
(Photo: The Quint)

Zijah Sherwani, 26, says after the Delhi police attacked students at Jamia Milia Islamia on 15 December, she had a nightmare that her family was at home, and people were trying to enter the house, banging on the door. She adds that she’s unable to do the things she used to earlier, like going out with friends, to take her mind off things.

“It all feels useless. What’s the point? If I’m not doing something related to the protests, I get restless,” she adds.

‘Self-Care is Important’

Nineteen-year-old Shalini Pratap Singh, a student of Delhi University, says that she used to experience sleeplessness often after the CAA unrest began. But she realised that self-care is important.

Psychologist Srividya Rajaram agrees with Shalini. She says that it’s important to do the things that keep us happy, while actively engaging with the outside world. Whether it’s a talk with family, a cup of chai on a cold winter morning, or a dinner with a friend, it’s all important to keep us grounded during times of change.

Srividya has been volunteering her services to people in distress caused by the unrest around the Citizenship Amendment Act.

“It’s difficult because it feels like the whole world is changing around them. In times like this it’s important to keep doing things that keep us grounded.”
Srividya Rajaram, Psychologist
Several women have been sitting in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the last one month.
Several women have been sitting in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the last one month.
(Photo: The Quint)
Sikh farmers at Shaheen Bagh.
Sikh farmers at Shaheen Bagh.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/Farooque A Siddique)

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