Psychedelic drugs: the new frontier for mental health

This episode of The PJ Pod seeks to uncover the truth behind the hype over the use of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of mental health conditions.

Warning: this episode of The PJ Pod contains some potentially upsetting content about suicidal thoughts and miscarriage. If you would like to skip this part of the episode, please fast forward from 09:50 to 17:00.

In the UK, clinical trials are ongoing to investigate the use of psychedelic drugs, paired with therapy, in the treatment of serious mental health conditions, such as depression, anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

However, other parts of the world are several steps ahead: in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration may approve MDMA for PTSD later in 2023 and, from July 2023, psychiatrists in Australia will be able to prescribe MDMA for PTSD and psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression.

In this episode of The PJ Pod, senior data journalist Julia Robinson speaks with experts in the field of psychedelics and therapy, and hears the personal account of someone with first-hand experience of participating in one of these trials, to uncover the truth behind the hype.

Thanks to Sarah Bateup, therapy lead at Clerkenwell Health; David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology; and David Taylor, director of pharmacy and pathology at the Maudsley Hospital and professor of psychopharmacology at King’s College London.

A special thank you to Mat for sharing his story with us.

This episode was produced by Geoff Marsh, with support from Nigel Praities.

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Mental health resources

Samaritans is a charity available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, for anyone struggling to cope. The Samaritans work with communities to let people know they are there for them, as well as campaign to make suicide prevention a priority. They can be contacted by phone, email, post, in branch or via their self-help app.

Mind is a mental health charity covering England and Wales. It offers information and advice to people with mental health conditions and lobbies government and local authorities on their behalf. Their Infoline offers confidential help for the price of a local call, while their Legal line provides information on mental health-related law.

The Miscarriage Association provides support and information to anyone affected by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy. They can be contacted via their pregnancy loss helpline, live chat service, telephone and email support services. They also provide information about counselling after a miscarriage.

Tommy’s is a pregnancy charity that provides expert, midwife-led advice for parents before, during and after pregnancy. It fosters a connected, caring community aiming to make pregnancy safer and to support those who have lost babies.

Psychedelic Participant Advocacy Network is a non-profit organisation created to connect and empower all psychedelic trial participants, whether they are taking part in clinical trials or receiving therapy at legal treatment centres across the world. Its aim is to give a collective voice to all participants to help improve participant safety and wellbeing.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2023, Vol 310, No 7973;310(7973)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.183266

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