The blossoming world of psychedelic therapy could change the face of mental health treatment. With trials returning continually stronger evidence for the benefits of psychedelic therapy in treating a number of conditions, one Australian charity has announced that it will provide the drugs free of cost in the hope of rolling-out new treatments quicker and more equitably.
The world is in the midst of a mental health crisis, and Australia’s troubles are particularly acute: nearly half of Australians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, 80% of Aussies now report poor mental health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Australia has the second-highest per capita use of antidepressants out of all the OECD countries.
All in all, this is thought to cost the Australian economy around $220 billion per year, not to mention the incalculable effects on people’s well-being and quality of life. That’s why when news broke earlier this year that the TGA was approving MDMA and psilocybin for clinical use, it was enthusiastically welcomed by millions of Australians, as well as researchers, practitioners, and interested parties around the world.
WATCH: Paddy Pimblett discusses his battles with mental health.
However, there is a catch which, for the record, we predicted in our article on the newly approved substances last month: cost. Patients could be expected to pay out-of-pocket costs of at least $25,000 for the treatment, immediately presenting huge obstacles to any “normal” Aussies being able to access the drugs or practitioners.
Enter Mind Medicine Australia (MMA) who — having been central to the approval of these groundbreaking drugs in the first place — are now taking applications from research organisations to supply GMP medical grade psilocybin and MDMA at no cost to support new clinical trials.
In particular, MMA hopes to support clinical trials that explore how to best optimise psychedelic treatment results and extend the application of psychedelic medicinal therapies to other aspects of mental and physical illness.
This announcement from MMA comes alongside the decision by the Commonwealth Government to provide a $15 million grant round that supports psychedelic medicine research, the largest government grant for this purpose anywhere in the World.
The Chairman of MMA, Peter Hunt, had this to say about Australia’s role in the surging psychedelic therapy movement:
“We have moved from being largely absent from this area of medical innovation to fast becoming a World leader. Given the high calibre of researchers in this country and the desperate need for new and more effective treatments, we are delighted to consider applications… to support new innovative trials.”Peter Hunt
As Australia takes centre stage in a movement that could revolutionise mental healthcare, MMA has stepped up to remind us all that while innovation knows no boundaries, neither should access to healing. With this announcement, MMA smashes the cost barrier that once loomed over normal Aussies seeking some much-needed relief.