Psychedelic Drugs Could Help Treat The Mental Health Epidemic We’ll Face After COVID-19
Psychedelic Drugs most of us have fixed views about drugs like ecstasy or LSD. The majority of us think they are dangerous and should remain illegal. Fear of these drugs is understandable. Their effects are unpredictable and, beyond adjusting the dose, we have limited control over their effects. That’s very different to the ever-popular alcohol and cannabis which are far more predictable in the way they make us feel, behave or think.
While research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics has been hampered in the past there is a resurgence in interest. The drivers of this change are difficult to discern but there are some probable reasons. Across the western world, rates of mental health problems are on the rise, yet we don’t know why and can only guess what the potential causes are. The search for treatment is clearly urgent and potentially profitable for the pharmaceutical industry. I’m not being critical of the industry, as without their investment in research and development we wouldn’t have the anti-depressants or other medicines that we rely on today – but we can’t forget that pharmaceuticals are not charities, they are businesses.
NHS staff involved in treating patients with Covid-19 will experience psychological problems like post-traumatic stress disorder. The estimated numbers at risk are staggering: 10 per cent of the workforce doesn’t sound like a lot but given there are 500,000 nurses and 300,000 doctors, that’s tens of thousands who are potentially in need of help.
Another possible motivation is the dire need to change the way we treat mental health, generally. Most of the evidence we have about treating problems points to combining medicines with some form of talking treatment for any chance of success. Giving out pills is relatively easy but combining this with a trained therapist isn’t; there are capacity issues.