Year: 2020 Source: Dallas, TX: Author. (2020). 8 p. SIEC No: 20200640

On April 28, 2020, the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) issued the first in a series of reports analyzing the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our initial report projected the impact of a COVID-induced economic recession (the COVID recession) on increases in rates of suicide, illicit-drug related deaths, and substance use disorders. Our second report updated the original report with state-level projections. For this report, MMHPI has partnered with the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) to conduct a similar analysis for United States (U.S.) veterans. Specifically, the present analysis focuses on how a COVID-19 induced economic recession increases rates of suicide and substance use disorders (SUD) – with a specific focus on military veterans. Our analysis suggests that as many as 550 additional U.S. veteran lives could be lost to suicide in the next 12 months and 20,000 additional American veterans could suffer from substance use disorders with every five percent (5%) increase in unemployment compared to pre-COVID levels. In this report, MMHPI and CVN have set out to expand on our initial estimates1 to focus on the sub-population of veterans, who already have higher than average rates of suicide compared to the general population. Veterans generally have poorer than average mental health and disproportionately experience homelessness, which may partially explain the higher rates of substance use disorder among veterans. These projections are intended to inform health system planning regarding how this pandemic, and its effects upon the economy, may impact the needs of veterans.