The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on treatment-seeking veterans in the united kingdom with preexisting mental health difficulties: A longitudinal study

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J Trauma Stress. 2021 Oct 16. doi: 10.1002/jts.22742. Online ahead of print.


Individuals with preexisting psychological difficulties are at risk of further deterioration of their mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. This longitudinal study, conducted during the period between two national lockdowns, aimed to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on veterans in the United Kingdom with preexisting mental health difficulties. Treatment-seeking veterans with preexisting mental health difficulties (N = 95) were surveyed in two waves. Wave 1 was conducted at the end of the first lockdown (June 2020-July 2020), and Wave 2 took place during the second lockdown (November 2020). Participants completed measures to assess symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); common mental health difficulties (CMDs), including anxiety and depression; anger; and alcohol use. Initial analyses revealed no significant changes in symptoms of PTSD, CMDs, anger, or alcohol use between the lockdowns, ps = .247-.986. However, veterans who experienced more COVID-19-related stressors were more likely to experience increases in PTSD, odds ratio (OR) = 6.30, p = .002, and CMD symptoms, OR = 4.32, p = .025. Participants with lower levels of social support during the second lockdown were more likely to experience increased anger difficulties, OR = 0.91, p = .025. The findings suggest that although mental health among veterans in the United Kingdom may have remained relatively stable between the two lockdowns, those who reported more COVID-related stressors and lower levels of social support may have been particularly vulnerable to symptom exacerbation. Such findings hold important implications for tailoring support for veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PMID:34655485 | DOI:10.1002/jts.22742