The role of alternative emerging therapies such as psilocybin and MDMA in treating mental health conditions was the subject of a timely and thought-provoking discussion at the Australian Medical Association (WA) conference MEDCON22 in Perth last week.
Our CEO Justin James was joined at Crown Perth by Edith Cowan University senior lecturer in drug studies, Dr Stephen Bright, and Head of the UWA Division of Psychiatry in the Medical School, Professor Sean Hood, to discuss medicinal cannabis and psychedelics and how and why they may offer an alternative therapeutic approach for mental health patients currently underserved by what’s on offer.
Dr Bright is currently investigating MDMA – more commonly known as ecstasy – for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and along with Professor Hood, in conjunction with Reset Mind Sciences, conducting the State’s first clinical trial of psilocybin – the main psychoactive principle of hallucinogenic mushrooms – for treatment resistant depression.
Mental illness and suicide costs Australia a conservative $220 billion a year – or $600 million a day – according to a Productivity Commission report released in November 2020.
Mr James said one in five hospital claims from Australians aged under 30 with private health care were for the hospital treatment and care of patients with psychiatric, mental, addiction or behavioural disorders.
“The current solution seems to be to prescribe anti-depressants. However, we know that prescription rates have doubled in the past decade and around one in seven Australians are now taking anti-depressants daily, so clearly something isn’t working,” Mr James said.
“Our goal is to ensure our members have choice and access to the best cover to suit their lifestyle and we recognise that sometimes, in order to do that, we need to think outside the square.”
The MEDCON22 session marked a significant milestone in the conversation around emerging therapies in the treatment of mental health and generated a huge amount of interest from the academics and practitioners in the room, media and the broader community.