As more money floods into psychedelic research – and financial backers expect a return on their investment – it's easy for the people whose mental and emotional wellbeing is at stake to be sidelined or, at worst, completely forgotten in the pursuit of profit. Yes, money is needed to make these treatments widely available, but there's little point in people being able to access them if their welfare is at risk.
PsyPAN will provide consultation services and advise organisations to enable them to behave ethically and place participant wellbeing and safety at the very heart of their trials and treatments. Together we will build best practice throughout the sector. PsyPAN will also provide accreditation to organisations that prioritise their patients over their profit margins.
When people are suffering and desperate for that suffering to end, a psychedelic treatment may feel like their last hope. With this in mind, PsyPAN will help clinical trial and treatment centres to:
– Ensure better access for people of all backgrounds – mental health problems are more prevalent within marginalised groups, so these potentially life-changing treatments need to be available to those who need them the most.
– Ensure screening criteria are as clear as possible to help guard against the disappointment of those not eligible for treatment.
– Ensure screening processes are thorough but as straightforward as possible, minimising the additional administrative burden placed on participants – who may already be feeling overwhelmed – with adequate support provided throughout.
– Ensure those who don’t pass screening are provided with support or referred to other services so they are not left feeling even more vulnerable or hopeless.
PsyPAN will help clinical trial and treatment centres to:
– Ensure psychedelic therapy sessions take place in a completely safe and compassionate environment.
– Ensure adequate preparation work is done pre-session, including participants learning complementary tools and techniques that may aid them during their experience (for example: visualisation, breathwork or grounding exercises).
– Engender the absolute trust required to safely allow people to be as vulnerable and open as they want to be during their psychedelic experience.
– Train practitioners to provide adequate guidance and support during sessions, and be effective allies who can 'walk with' participants.
This will all help enable participants to trust they can safely navigate any challenging moments – going 'in and through' – and also ensure they benefit fully from any insights they receive during the treatment.
Without aftercare and integration work, the vast benefits and insights that a psychedelic experience can quickly fade away and old thought patterns and behaviour can quickly return. PsyPAN will help organisations to focus not just on administering a drug, but on their whole treatment model. This will ensure the benefits of a therapeutic psychedelic treatment are maximised, rather than it just providing a brief ‘holiday’ for a participant away from their mental health condition.
Many participants feel a sense of abandonment after clinical trials have been completed. While trials will often be limited in their scope and funding, PsyPAN will help ensure that organisations provide adequate aftercare or at least refer participants to other support services or integration groups.
Aftercare is also vital for clinical trial participants who have received a placebo rather than an active dose – the disappointment of not receiving the treatment they had hoped for can be hugely detrimental to a person’s mental health: PsyPAN will ensure organisations honour their duty of care to all participants.
A deep sense of connectedness is a common thread that runs through many people’s psychedelic experiences – their sense of connection with themselves, with others, with nature and the environment, with the universe as a whole is felt as a deep-rooted knowing. In our increasingly atomised and insular societies and cultures – exacerbated further by the coronavirus pandemic – the need for connection to aid mental, emotional and ecological healing has never been greater.
PsyPAN will bring together psychedelic participants and collectively we will ensure our voices are heard, whether that’s by directly helping with advocacy and consultancy work or by being part of discussion groups, integration circles or group events.
PsyPAN will also lobby governments internationally where needed and campaign for the necessary legal changes required to enable safe access to these treatments for those who need them the most. PsyPAN’s reach and mission will evolve as the network grows and the psychedelic sector evolves.