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First psychedelic mental health trials to begin in London

Image of psychedelic mushrooms
Dorothea Oldani / Unsplash

News round-up / by Conor D'Andrade

Until 1971, psychedelic drugs including Mescaline, LSD, and Psilocybin were used therapeutically for mental health conditions. They were later classified as addictive and harmful.

Since their criminalisation, it has been challenging for researchers to access these controlled systems for use in clinical trials; trials which are attempting to examine their ability to treat mental health conditions.

But researchers who have managed to make it through the bureaucratic process are finding promising results.

Inspired by these results, the first psychedelic drug trials at a commercial facility are now being scheduled to take place in London, with their aim being to examine the efficacy of psychedelics for treating mental conditions such as nicotine addiction, terminal anxiety and PTSD.

Chief executive of Clerkenwell Health, Tom McDonald, said: “Psychedelic assisted therapy could be groundbreaking for mental health treatment, and the UK is well placed to be at the vanguard of that as a global leader in clinical trials post-Brexit.

"The patient experience for psychedelic treatments starts with the first time they come into contact with the clinic, and continues until they receive the final treatment.

"The use of innovative technologies such as remote therapist consultations and patient-facing apps can help ensure the entire care pathway is tailored to the individual.

"Our aim is to establish the UK as the heart of the commercial psychedelic research ecosystem, working closely with mental health experts and drug developers around the world to tackle some of the most complex mental health conditions."

While these trials could – and hopefully will – lead to progress in the use of psychedelics for treating mental health conditions, the ethics of a private enterprise gaining access to research typically forbidden for public bodies is hotly debated.

Read the full story here.

Survey reveals prevalence of trauma in Northern Ireland children

New research from Ulster University (UU) and Queen's University of Belfast (QUB) studying the prevalence of childhood trauma in Northern Ireland has found that almost 1 in 4 children have experienced some kind of trauma.

Defined as "exposure to an extremely threatening or horrific event or series of events", the research found that 478 out of 1300 young people aged 11 to 19 reported experiencing at least one traumatic event, and 259 reported having experienced multiple traumatic events.

Of those, girls were much more likely to report online sexual harassment, whereas boys more commonly reported seeing, experiencing, or being threatened with violence.

The researchers highlighted that this prevalence of childhood trauma is higher in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK when compared to similar studies undertaken in England and Wales.

However, they have also pointed out the need for further research to understand why this difference in prevalence exists.

It has been suggested that trauma levels may be due to "marginalisation, socio-economic adversity, social deprivation as well as intermittent instances of inter-community violence”.

However, the study did not find enough evidence to suggest that the children of parents who experienced trauma during the Troubles were any more likely to have experienced trauma themselves.

Read the full story here.

Most workers think employers should offer mental health days and guaranteed pay

A survey of 2000 adults has found that 70% believe employers should offer more days off for mental health, alongside guaranteeing sick and holiday pay.

Across the surveyed group of 2000 people, employees took an average of four days off for their mental health over the past year.

Nearly 40% had taken more than four days away from work (38%), and 72% said they also planned to take another day off before the end of the year.

While many would question the feasibility and incentive of this for employers, 80% said the extra time away from work would lead to increased productivity, and 64% reported that they’d be more drawn to a workplace offering these benefits.

In a statement, Senior Director of Behavioural Health at 98point6, Dr Mara Kailin, said:

”In the past, many mental health needs went unaddressed, but now we’re finally starting to see the stigma around receiving therapy and other mental health services dissipate.

"People know they need help, and now with virtual platforms, care is more convenient and accessible.

"This affords people the opportunity to receive quality treatment on their terms, helping them to be happier at home and more productive at work.”

Read the full story here.


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