- The United States is in the midst of (bar far) its worst mental health crisis in the near 250-year history of the nation
- Psychedelic medicine is showing the clear potential to solve this crisis, in formal clinical drug trials
- Instead, the Biden administration is throwing more money at approaches to mental health that have already failed
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that mental health (which was already a “crisis”) has been spiraling out of control since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, if you are living under a rock, you’re probably one of the 80 million Americans exhibiting symptoms of depression.
Then there are the epidemics of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and substance abuse.
One American commits suicide approximately every 10 minutes. One American dies from a drug overdose every 5 minutes.
In the U.S. military, the Mental Health Crisis from untreated/poorly treated PTSD is 20 years old – and getting worse. Over that time period, more than 115,000 veterans have committed suicide.
Today, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day with suicides currently at a record rate. That’s nearly one every hour.
Mental health is no longer a crisis in the United States. It’s a catastrophe.
After several successive U.S. administrations ignoring the crisis, finally the White House has taken notice of the catastrophe. Unfortunately, all that the Biden administration is offering is a long list of bandaids.
Doing “more” of what has not been working for the past 20 years.
Meanwhile, revolutionary new medicines and therapies to treat mental health weren’t even mentioned in the White House briefing.
Psychedelic medicine is the only answer for mental health therapy
Apparently, the Biden administration and, indeed, all of the senior citizens of Congress do very little reading. Because if they did read more broadly, they would certainly be aware of new research involving psychedelic medicine – and revolutionary results in formal clinical trials.
Animal testing has shown that psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin have the capacity to physically build new neuron development and stimulate growth. A literal “rewiring” of the human brain.
Meanwhile, the psychedelic “trip” itself (in a supervised clinical setting) is said by both patients and therapists to “reset” the brain.
This doesn’t simply have the potential to reduce symptoms of depression, or anxiety, or addiction, or PTSD. Clinical trials are showing the capacity to generate complete and long-lasting remission for many participants – effective “cures” where current mental health therapies provide only (marginally effective) crutches.
Globally, 2+ billion people suffered from some treatable but untreated mental health disorder before the start of Covid-19. Never in history has there been this large a pandemic of mental health issues.
The White House remains willfully blind toward psychedelic medicine
In a long announcement that pledged billions of dollars for numerous superficial programs aimed at mental health, the word “psychedelic” did not even appear in the document.
Burrow deep down and you find this:
Invest in research on new practice models. New scientific and technological innovation has the opportunity to expand our capacity to meet American’s mental health needs, but there is a pressing need for research to validate what works and build a robust evidence base. The President’s FY23 budget will call for investing $5 million in research into promising models for treating mental health conditions.
Part of that $5 million may be directed into psychedelics related R&D. To call this a “token gesture” reduces that phrase to a new low. Over $300 billion per year is currently spent on mental health in the United States with (as the numbers above illustrate) virtually nothing to show for it.
This was not a real mental health “strategy”: a plan that actually offered real hope (and progressive thinking) for the 100+ million Americans with serious mental needs today.
This was a plan to avoid a real strategy: the assorted therapies of psychedelic medicine that can provide a comprehensive solution to this crisis.
When Americans needed genuine leadership on mental health, they got “more of the same”. When Americans (with mental health issues) needed real hope, all they got was talk – and spraying more tax dollars at already-failed approaches to cope with this crisis.
The U.S. economy is falling apart due to mental health
Currently, over 10 million jobs remain permanently unfilled in the U.S. economy, despite only 62% of the population with actual employment.
Low wages is part of it, but wages haven’t changed. In fact, they have actually risen somewhat recently.
Rather, the real problem is mental health. Having to commute an hour or more each day to a low-wage job in the cities (where people can’t afford to live) is bad enough. Trying to do that while suffering from depression or addiction or other mental health disorders is too much – in the minds of more and more Americans.
Supposedly, according to all the great right-wing “thinkers”, Americans were going to rush back to those low-wage jobs as soon as “generous” government Covid benefits expired. Instead, employers have seen the Great Resignation.
That’s bad enough. But with Covid itself still a major issue in much of the U.S., the healthcare profession is even closer to complete collapse: doctors, nurses, support staff and ambulance drivers/paramedics.
That’s just one dimension of the economic toll of failing to address this mental health catastrophe. A previous Psychedelic Stock Watch article examined “the economics of psychedelics”.
- 8 million preventable deaths per year (globally)
- Over $1 trillion per year in lost productivity (globally)
- Mental health issues are the #1 cause of disability
- Over $300 billion spent (wasted) each year in the U.S. on mental health
- Over $740 billion per year in total costs of substance abuse in the U.S.
- Labor shortages
Meanwhile, not only can psychedelic medicine provide real cures rather than mental health crutches, research has shown that it can save money (in treatment costs) while doing so.
Psychedelic medicine: fast and effective
Current mental health therapies generally involve investing months/years consuming dubious drugs and undergoing psychotherapy to achieve marginal gains in mental health.
Meanwhile, clinical trials are showing that psychedelic medicine can produce complete remission in just a few sessions, or sometime just a single therapy session.
- A MAPS Phase III clinical trial using MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD reported 66% in remission after just a few sessions. This compares to DoD therapies for PTSD where only 1 out of 3 veterans reports any benefit – even after months/years of treatment.
- A Phase IIa clinical trial for “treatment-resistant depression” (TRD) reported 7 out of 8 participants in remission after a single session. Conversely, ~50% of people using antidepressants for depression derive no benefit (even after months/years), and of the 50% who do, 1/3rd of that is just a placebo effect.
Success vs. failure.
The revolutionary improvement in the standard of care for mental health using psychedelic medicine parallels the improvement in the treatment of bacterial infections with the invention of antibiotics.
The Biden administration had the opportunity to chart a new course in U.S. mental health – using mental health therapies that actually work. Instead, the 100+ million Americans in need of better mental health options have been shafted (again).
Crises, by definition, require new thinking. A problem doesn’t reach the level of a crisis unless current approaches to treating that problem have failed.
Without question, the mental health catastrophe in the United States requires “new thinking”, but you don’t even have to think that hard.
It’s an obvious solution. But the Biden administration has chosen failure over hope.