STUDY: Suicide, substance abuse risk for Veterans on the rise du - FOX34 Lubbock

STUDY: Suicide, substance abuse risk for Veterans on the rise during pandemic

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

With the recent economic downturn, research conducted by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and the Cohen Veterans Network shows veterans are at a higher risk of depression and substance abuse. 

Financial security and job loss point to an increase in mental health disorders, potentially leading to suicide. Cohen Veterans Network CEO Anthony Hassan says as we're starting to see a second wave of coronavirus cases, mental health challenges may also soon take over. 

"For every five percent increase in unemployment we could see an additional 550 veterans deaths by suicide and an additional 20,000 veterans who might experience substance use disorders," he said. 

Hassan said financial stress and job loss can influence the development of mental health and substance abuse disorders. 

"Given this reality with the pandemic, social isolation and now high unemployment rate it's not shocking that we're going to be challenged both in the veteran community and across America," he said. 

Now as telehealth is at the forefront of the pandemic, Hassan said it's finding solutions in treating those experiencing mental health issues. 

"Our network has 98 percent of our patients are seen via telehealth. So now patients, people, Americans, veterans have access that they didn't have before," he said. "As a result of social distancing and isolation we also have seen that telehealth has been the best thing that has come out of the pandemic."

But the threat of lawmakers slowing funding for these types of treatments, Hassan is calling for their support now more than ever. 

"I really want to urge our leaders across America to resist the tendency to want to reduce behavioral health funding when local, state and federal budgets become tight. Now is not the time to disengage," he said. 

Resources for veterans in crisis or in need of support include: 

• Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
• Veterans Crisis Texas: text "HELP" to 838255
• More crisis resources can be found - here
• Mental health support resources can be found - here
• For peer support call Vets4Warriors at 1-855-838-8255
• National Women Veterans Hotline: (855) 829-6636

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