Just like the gold rush of the 1800s, there is a feverish excitement about the potential of psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, to improve common mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
We urgently require new treatments for these issues, as the present medications do not assist everyone. Indeed, one out of every three persons will not respond to any of the antidepressant drugs recommended to them. Given that one in every five people in the United Kingdom will suffer from depression or anxiety at some point in their lives, this translates to millions of people who lack access to a viable alternative to typical prescribed medication. Not to mention the increased number of people who may require mental health therapy as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So, the timing couldn’t be better for this renaissance of interest in psychedelics and it’s no coincidence that venture capital is pouring into schemes, which aim to research the role they might have in offering hope to those who experience these types of mental health problems. The latest of these is Neo Kuma Ventures, which boasts of millions of pounds being available to exploit the potential of these drugs and make “Europe the new hub of the burgeoning psychedelic health sector”. Clearly these groups are feeling very bullish about what this class of drugs might achieve.
Investment in mental health research and treatments is welcome, as this field of medicine isn’t exactly flush with cash and requires the best minds to help individuals who are suffering. However, money and minds will not be enough to see the promise of these treatments if they are made broadly available. Psychedelics are now classified as a schedule one substance in the United Kingdom, and while they can be studied, they cannot be prescribed to anybody outside of a research trial. These new projects and their supporters are betting on a policy shift that the government has not indicated it is willing to contemplate so far.