Today, roughly 2 billion people around the world have treatable mental health disorders. But the Mental Health Crisis didn’t happen overnight.
This has been a slow-motion medical catastrophe. Over a period of decades, steadily rising numbers of people have developed stress-related mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, addiction and PTSD.
This is a Crisis that is the obvious result of two factors:
a) Government neglect
b) Grossly inadequate treatment options from the healthcare industry
b) Grossly inadequate treatment options from the healthcare industry
Both our governments and healthcare providers have consistently earned failing grades in mental health care.
The fact that governments in the Western world have neglected the mental health of their citizens is an obvious fact. Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate this is via the “suicide epidemic” in the United States.
The mainstream media, which itself has generally ignored the rising Mental Health Crisis, identified suicide as an “epidemic” in the United States as far back as 2013. And it has published regular reminders about this worsening epidemic (2016, 2018, 2019, 2020).
A government which first causes a suicide epidemic (through making life increasingly intolerable for increasing numbers of people) and then does nothing to address this is – at the least – grossly negligent.
Sadly for Americans, both Republicans and Democrats have shown little interest in the Mental Health Crisis or the suicide epidemic from high up in their ivory towers.
No effort to address the causes: the rising homelessness in the United States, or rising poverty or rising substance abuse or rising housing crisis, etc., etc. Just endless happy-talk about how “strong” the economy is.
Alternately, if the U.S. government wasn’t prepared to address the causes of this Mental Health Crisis, it had to commit itself to addressing the effects: finding more effective therapies for the increasing millions of Americans with treatable mental health disorders.
The U.S. government, like other Western governments, has done neither of these things. But governments are not alone in their failure and neglect.
The failure of conventional mental health care
The healthcare industry is equally culpable here. Consuming $100s of billions of dollars every year in “treating” mental health conditions while delivering minimal results.
Psychedelic Stock Watch has previously highlighted these failures.
- Only ½ of those suffering from depression obtain any benefit from “first-line drugs”.
- Only 1/3rd of U.S. veterans receiving treatment for PTSD from the Department of Veterans Affairs obtain any benefit from their therapy.
- Current treatments for the 1+ billion people with substance abuse disorders are simply a joke – a bad joke. Tobacco companies cynically invest in “smoking cessation” products because of their abysmally low rate of success.
Failed therapies. Ineffective pharmaceuticals.
Ancient physicians who “treated” their patients with leeches boasted similar treatment success rates.
Yet until recently, there has been no movement in the healthcare industry to upgrade these miserable treatment outcomes and standards. Physicians continue to prescribe dangerous, addictive and minimally-effective antidepressants like two-legged Pez dispensers.
Meanwhile, throughout this worsening crisis, an obviously superior therapeutic option has been sitting on the shelf: psychedelic drugs. Banned not only for consumption but even for research for the better part of half a century.
The Psychedelic Drug Revolution
When Timothy Leary exhorted people to “tune in, turn on, drop out” with psychedelic drugs in the 1960s, this provided the excuse for the conservative political establishment to criminalize these substances – even as exciting research into their mental health potential was already underway.
The result was 50 years of the ill-conceived, ill-fated War on Drugs. The most counterproductive law-and-order crusade in the history of humanity.
Governments are now grudgingly and belatedly acknowledging the spectacular folly of the War on Drugs. A rising political tide, reaching all the way to the United Nations, is calling for the decriminalization – and normalization – of these substances.
This has unlocked the doors, once again, for psychedelic drug research. Treatment results from clinical studies have been spectacular. The medicinal potential of psychedelic medicine is virtually unlimited.
The Miracle Drugs of the 21st century.
Where conventional medicine has been providing nothing but ineffectual mental health bandaids, psychedelic medicine is providing cures. Addicts who no longer have addictive cravings. Depression or PTSD patients who “no longer qualify” for the diagnosis of these conditions because they cease to exhibit symptoms, i.e. they are cured.
Covid-19 pandemic dramatically worsens the Mental Health Crisis
Prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Mental Health Crisis was already a global pandemic, with well over 1 billion people with treatable mental health disorders. It was already resulting in over 7 million deaths per year.
Prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, psychedelic drugs had already shown spectacular potential to address the Mental Health Crisis.
Yet there had been near-zero coverage from the mainstream media of this worsening catastrophe in mental health. There was near-zero movement from governments to even study the potential of psychedelic medicine to address this Crisis.
Asleep at the wheel on mental health.
Then Covid-related lockdowns resulted in the destruction of 100s of thousands of businesses. Tens of millions of workers were displaced. Poverty worsened. Add in actual fears and uncertainty toward the virus itself and the result has been a dramatic spike in mental health issues.
A previous Psychedelic Stock Watch article illustrated the dramatic surge in mental health issues in the United States.
- Overall, the percentage of Americans suffering from depression had already more-than-tripled by September 2020, from 8.5% to 27.8% (91.75 million Americans) [source: Boston University]
- Rates of “moderately severe depression” among Americans have quadrupled (from 2% to 8%) and rates of “severe depression” have more than quintupled (from less than 1% to 5%) [source: WebMD]
- The depression/anxiety pandemic continues to worsen: between August 2020 and January 2021, the percentage of Americans experiencing anxiety or depression jumped from 36% to 42% [source: CDC]
- As of August 2020, sales of alcohol in the U.S. had risen by 27%, along with a 32% increase in non-prescribed fentanyl, 20% increase in methamphetamines, 12.5% increase in heroin, and 10% increase in cocaine, leading to an 18% increase in drug overdoses [source: EHS Today]
- By June 2020 (only 3 months after the start of the pandemic in the U.S.), more than 1 in 8 Americans (13%) had either started or increased their use of recreational drugs due to COVID-related stress [source: CDC]
- By June 2020, U.S. drug overdose deaths had reached their highest level ever, 81,000 overdose deaths from June 2019 to June 2020 [source: Statnews]
Psychedelic Stock Watch recently factored in this new explosion in mental health issues along with the well over 1 billion pre-pandemic mental health disorders that already existed. Our conclusion: there are now 2 billion people globally with treatable mental health disorders. And that is a conservative figure since it only includes the mental health disorders associated with the Mental Health Crisis.
That’s more than 1 in 4 people globally. Perhaps the Mental Health Crisis has crossed the threshold necessary to attract the necessary attention and generate the necessary government/healthcare reform?
The media and pharmaceutical industry ‘discover’ the Mental Health Crisis
The mainstream media has now “discovered” the Mental Health Crisis – thanks to how it has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even the market-oriented Wall Street Journal has turned its attention to this mental health catastrophe.
In the coronavirus pandemic, a wave of mental-health crises has grown into a tsunami, flooding an already taxed system of care. As the country appears to be emerging from the worst of the Covid-19 crisis, emergency departments say they are overwhelmed by patients who deferred or couldn’t access outpatient treatment, or whose symptoms intensified or went undiagnosed during the lockdowns. [emphasis mine]
A mere mental health crisis wasn’t enough to attract the mainstream media’s attention. But now that it has reached “tsunami” proportions, the media is starting to focus.
The mainstream media already had a growing awareness of the potential of psychedelic medicine. This year alone, dozens of feature articles have appeared offering generally enthusiastic summaries about how psychedelic medicine could – potentially – revolutionize mental health care.
Now the pharmaceutical industry also seems to be waking up. Multinational drug companies largely curtailed their research into mental health drugs in the previous decade. As of 2016, Big Pharma had slashed its R&D on mental health by roughly 70%.
Recently, however, the pharmaceutical industry has begun to revise its thinking – and acknowledge its failure – in developing better mental health drugs. And it is the Covid-related escalation of the Mental Health Crisis which has attracted its attention.
An article from Pharmacy Times frames this new awareness (and previous failure) in stark terms.
Currently, following the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting catastrophic rise in mental health issues, psychedelic medicines such as psilocybin, MDMA, ketamine, and cannabis are finding a new place in the field of medical research. In many ways, the desperate need of today may call for desperate measures for tomorrow, with renewed hope for finding new medicines to treat the needs of a growing number of patients who are living and suffering from mental illness. [emphasis mine]
Replace the words “desperate measures” with “effective therapies” and the pharmaceutical industry may finally get its head screwed on straight regarding psychedelic drugs and psychedelic medicine.
It’s fair to say that without this “catastrophic rise in mental health issues” that the pharmaceutical industry (overall) may have remained fast asleep on mental health – when only 1+ billion people had untreated mental health disorders.
The emerging biopharma companies in the new psychedelic drug sector may have continued to toil largely in the dark, at least with respect to mainstream drug companies and the media.
Instead, because of the mental health consequences of Covid-19, the pharmaceutical industry seems to be (belatedly) prepared to help to address a health catastrophe that arose (at least in part) from its own neglect. The media is starting to bang the drum.
All that is missing is for the senior citizens of the U.S. House and Senate to hobble down from their ivory towers long enough to get something done on psychedelic drug reform and the Mental Health Crisis.
The problem is that many of these gray-haired politicians (from both sides of the aisle) have played instrumental roles in prosecuting the failed War on Drugs – including Joe Biden himself. Old habits are hard to break, especially bad ones.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been directly and indirectly responsible for a dramatic escalation in human suffering, on multiple levels. This includes a massive and tragic toll on the mental health of hundreds of millions of people.
However, if all this suffering proves to be the catalyst to motivate governments to unlock the doors on psychedelic medicine for 2 billion people, that would be a very notable silver lining.