This paper investigates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of UK ex-service personnel (veterans) before and during the pandemic, and assesses associations of COVID-19 experiences and stressors with mental health, alcohol use and loneliness.
Veterans reported a statistically significant decrease in hazardous drinking of 48.5% to 27.6%, while CMD remained stable (non-statistically significant increase of 24.5% to 26.1%). 27.4% of veterans reported feelings of loneliness. The COVID-19 stressors of reporting difficulties with family/social relationships, boredom and difficulties with health were statistically significantly associated with CMD, hazardous drinking and loneliness, even after adjustment for previous mental health/hazardous alcohol use. Our study suggests a COVID-19 impact on veterans’ mental health, alcohol use and loneliness, particularly for those experiencing difficulties with family relationships. Veterans experienced the pandemic in similar ways to the general population and in some cases may have responded in resilient ways. While stable levels of CMD and reduction in alcohol use are positive, there remains a group of veterans who may need mental health and alcohol treatment services.
Sharp M, Serfioti D, Jones M, et al. UK veterans’ mental health and well-being before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal cohort study. BMJ Open 2021;11:e049815. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-049815.