Innovations are needed as the world faces a mental health crisis like never before; and new clinical applications of psychedelic medicine with therapy are showing significant promise.
In 2021, BrainFutures launched a three-part issue brief series and coalition-building effort focused on psychedelic-assisted therapy. These therapies hold promise for treating some of the most intractable mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, and treatment-resistant depression. With studies at top research institutions like Johns Hopkins, New York University, and Imperial College London showing compelling results, psychedelic medicine is rapidly gaining broad public attention. At the same time, the complexity of issues surrounding the equitable adoption of these treatments—in particular, around how to ensure successful adoption within the behavioral health field—is significant. By generating policy-oriented issue briefs and building multi-stakeholder collaborations, BrainFutures is helping to lay an unbiased foundation for the regulatory and reimbursement work ahead.
Mental Health Crisis
Psychedelic medicine research results are gaining attention in part because the United States, like the rest of the world, is experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis. A few statistics help to put the scale of this challenge into perspective:
From 2017 to 2019, before the pandemic, the number of U.S. adults experiencing a mental illness rose by 3.7%. From 2019 to 2021, this rate rose by more than 11%, from 45 million to 50 million, with approximately 1.1 million more people effected by serious suicidal thoughts compared to two years prior (Reinert, et al., 2019; Mental Health America, n.d.; Reinert, et al., 2021)
Pre COVID-19, the number of Americans aged 12 and older who suffered from an SUD rose from 19.7 million in 2017 to 20.4 million in 2019 (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2018; SAMHSA, 2020). Yet, during the first year of the pandemic, in 2020, this number doubled to 40.3 million (SAMHSA, n.d.).
Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. reached 70,630 in 2019; a high number by any account, yet only a slight increase of 400 additional deaths from drug misuse versus 2017 (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2021a; Hedegaard et al., 2018). In 2020, however, overdose deaths in the U.S. breached 100,000, with more than three-quarters a result of opioid addiction (CDC, 2021b).
In support of vetting and implementing promising psychedelic-assisted therapy interventions to add to treatment options for hard-to-treat mental health and substance use conditions, BrainFutures is scheduled to release three reports in this area from March 2022 through August 2022, which are available for free download on our website.
BrainFutures’ work in the field of psychedelic medicine is generously supported by:
Austin and Gabriela Hearst Foundation
Cammack Family Charitable Gift Fund
Darla Moore Foundation
Dick and Alex Simon
Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation
Walker Family Foundation
CDC. (2021a). Drug Overdose Deaths. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/index.html
CDC. (2021b). Drug Overdose Deaths in the U.S. Top 100,000 Annually [press release]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2021/20211117.htm
Hedegaard, H., Miniño, A., Warner, M. (2018). Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2017. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD. NCHS Data Brief, no 329. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db329-h.pdf
Mental Health America. (n.d.). Mental Health In America – Adult Data 2018. Website. https://www.mhanational.org/issues/mental-health-america-adult-data-2018
Reinert, M, Fritze, D. & Nguyen, T. (October 2021). The State of Mental Health in America 2022. Mental Health America, Alexandria VA. https://mhanational.org/sites/default/files/2022%20State%20of%20Mental%20Health%20in%20America.pdf?eType=ActivityDefinitionInstance&eId=a7a571c8-7fac-4660-b06d-ff88af5c2bec
Reinert, M., Nguyen, T., & Fritze, D. (2019). The State of Mental Health in America 2020. Mental Health America, Alexandria VA. https://mhanational.org/sites/default/files/State%20of%20Mental%20Health%20in%20America%20-%202020_0.pdf
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. (2018). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHFFR2017/NSDUHFFR2017.pdf
SAMHSA. (n.d.). 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Releases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/release/2020-national-survey-drug-use-and-health-nsduh-releases
SAMHSA. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD. HHS Publication No. PEP20-07-01-001, NSDUH Series H-55. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRPDFWHTML/2019NSDUHFFR090120.htm