Australia is facing an accelerating mental health crisis, and unfortunately, the mental health system has lacked substantial treatment innovation for the past five decades. Although efforts to reduce access times and increase the availability of mental health practitioners are positive, they are unlikely to solve the problem. The current tools used to treat mental illness have nasty side effects and dependency issues, and the majority of patients experience ongoing symptoms, significant side effects, and relapse after treatments stop.
To create positive change and healing, we must be innovative and broaden the tools available to medical practitioners and qualified therapists working in this area. Mental illness does not have to be a life sentence because there are safe and effective medicines and therapies that can heal many more people.
Enter Mind Medicine Australia, a registered charity and Australia’s leading not-for-profit organization working on the use of medicinal psilocybin and MDMA-assisted therapies to treat a range of mental illnesses and expand the treatment options available to medical practitioners and their patients in clinical environments.
After four years of presenting data and science from over 200 trials around the world, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) finally listened, and on February 3, 2023, the TGA announced that Mind Medicine Australia’s applications to reschedule MDMA and psilocybin were successful, making Australia the first country in the world to achieve this feat! From July 1, 2023, these treatments can be prescribed by psychiatrists under an Authorised Prescriber Scheme. They will be able to deliver psilocybin-assisted therapy to patients with treatment-resistant depression and MDMA-assisted therapy to treatment-resistant patients with PTSD.
Unlike current treatments such as anti-depressants, which only manage the illness and can have nasty side effects, psilocybin and MDMA-assisted therapies have been scientifically proven to be a safe and effective cure for anxiety, depression, end-of-life stress, addictions, and PTSD after just a short treatment program. These medicines are also currently being researched for dementia, eating disorders, OCD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and a number of other conditions. Research from over 200 trials indicates that the medicines are safe and non-addictive when administered within a medically controlled environment, and lead to remissions in 60-80% of patients after just 2-3 medicinal sessions in combination with psychotherapy.
This is a massive breakthrough in the mental health space, as patients will be able to access these therapies outside of clinical trials. The TGA’s decision offers a new option to practitioners and tens of thousands of patients who have been unable to get well with currently available treatments. However, Mind Medicine Australia’s job is far from done. As these therapies become available, there is plenty to do to make them accessible and affordable to all who need them.
One key program that will achieve this is MMA’s Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies (CPAT https://cpat.mindmedicineaustralia.org/), which has trained 240 psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, GPs, physicians, addiction specialists, mental health nurses, social workers, and occupational therapists since 2021. This training will help prepare mental health practitioners to safely administer these therapies and help patients heal from their mental health conditions.
It will take time for health funds and the government to begin subsidising these treatments, and MMA wants these therapies to be accessible and affordable to all, including those in need. 100% of donations to the Patient Support Fund will be used to subsidise treatment with psilocybin and MDMA-assisted therapies for those who otherwise could not afford it.
To donate into the fund, please visit www.MindMedicineAustralia.org/donate MMA would like to express our enormous gratitude to the tens of thousands of people who have made this breakthrough possible including the TGA, the Delegate, the members of the TGA’s Medicines Scheduling Advisory Committee and all of the clinicians, world leading researchers and all of the people who put in submissions of support.
In conclusion, the TGA’s recent decision to reschedule MDMA and psilocybin is a huge step forward in the treatment of mental illness, and it is hoped that this will mark the beginning of a new era of innovative treatments for mental health in Australia.
Let’s rally together and train enough clinicians and give financial support to those who need it. Together we can begin building a world where effective mental health treatment exists for every Australian. They now have the opportunity of accessing this breakthrough treatment with their mental health professionals, which has shown such positive safety and efficacy results internationally.
You can learn more at www.mindmedicineaustralia.org
By Tania de Jong AM, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mind Medicine Australia