The Psychedelic Participant Advocacy Network (PsyPAN) is a non-profit organisation created to connect and empower all psychedelic participants, whether they are taking part in clinical trials or receiving therapy at the various legal treatment centres being set up globally.
PsyPAN aims to give a collective voice to all participants and help improve participant safety and wellbeing by building best practice across all levels of the global psychedelic sector. This will be achieved by providing consultancy and advocacy services to organisations and by empowering people to become part of a community that helps shape future trials and treatments.
PsyPAN aims to pool the lived experiences of participants to help create more effective treatment models and maximise positive outcomes. Together participants can help shape guidelines that clinical trials and legal psychedelic treatment centres worldwide can follow where participant safety and wellbeing are put first.
This is the best way to ensure everyone gains the maximum potential benefit from the treatment they are being given and will lead to a responsible, ethical and, most importantly, safe psychedelic sector.
PsyPAN co-founder Ian Roullier has suffered from depression and anxiety for most of his adult life and psilocybin has proven to be the most effective treatment for his mental health to date. Ian was a participant in both the Imperial College London psilocybin for depression pilot study in 2015 and the COMPASS Pathways psilocybin clinical development programme trial run by King's College London in late 2019.
Ian's story has been covered as part of Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry's 'The Me You Can't See' series, on the BBC documentary 'Alastair Campbell: Depression And Me', and in Michael Pollan's groundbreaking book, 'How To Change Your Mind'. He has also given several public talks alongside Dr. Rosalind Watts (Imperial College/Synthesis Institute), appeared on various discussion panels as an 'Expert by Experience', and taken part in a roundtable of mental health leaders led by the Chair of the NHS.
These opportunities have provided Ian’s grounding in advocacy work, his aim being to help destigmatise and normalise the safely supervised use of psilocybin to treat depression. Ian’s contrasting experiences as a participant during both clinical trials gave him an insight into which elements of the therapeutic models could be improved and which should be used as the foundation of best therapeutic practice.
This foundation has been further built upon through Ian's position on the steering committee of the King's College PsiDeR (Psilocybin in Depression Resistant to Standard Treatments) trial and through his participation in the Synthesis Institute's Connectedness Program, which focuses on nature connectedness and peer support via workshops and sharing circles. Meeting other participants and sharing experiences through these groups demonstrated the need for greater collaboration and connection to ensure participants are always placed at the heart of any therapeutic psychedelic treatment.
PsyPAN co-founder Leonie Schneider was first diagnosed with depression in 1996 and had not found any long-term relief in almost continuous antidepressant medication or from conventional talking therapies in over 20 years. In November 2019, Leonie was a participant in the second Psilocybin for Depression clinical trial (PsiloDep 2) at Imperial College. It provided a turning point in how Leonie relates to her depression and provided a new path to deep personal healing and focused professional action.
Leonie has since redirected her efforts to expanding access to psychedelic assisted therapies by actively advocating for the safe and intentional use of psychedelics, including:
– Representing patient interests as an Expert by Experience on Professor David Nutt's Drug Science Medical Psychedelic Working Group which is shaping the medical and legal context in the UK for safe access to psychedelic medicine.
– Supporting the development and operational delivery of world class psychedelic retreats in the Netherlands with Alalaho (formerly the Psychedelic Society Experience Retreats).
– Shaping the development of Synthesis Institute's Connectedness Program as a Participant Steering Group Representative, which offers a group-based psychedelic therapy model to support ongoing connectedness to self, others and the natural world.
– Speaking publicly to raise awareness of the possibilities (and pitfalls) of psychedelic medicine, including Women in Psychedelics: Psychedelic Therapy and Clinical Trials (Drug Science) and Psilocybin Assisted Psychotherapy (Psychedelic Society), Inside the Experiment that could bring Psychedelic Drugs to the NHS (BBC Science Focus) and the upcoming documentary on the Psychedelic Renaissance (to be released).
– Contributing as a Friends Advisory Group member to MyDelica, which offers a progress tracker and evidence-based advice service for educating and safeguarding psychedelic journeys.
Leonie is further committed to her ongoing journey of personal and spiritual inquiry and is sustained by her personal practice of meditation, breathwork, and group integration sessions that enable her to find aliveness, joy and connection. Leonie plans to retrain in psychotherapy and psychedelic facilitation in 2022 as her long and winding path continues to unfold.