The University of Exeter, a university in the United Kingdom, is debuting one of the first postgraduate qualifications on psychedelics in the world, the Guardian reports. The program, called Psychedelics: Mind, Medicine, and Culture, aims to capitalize on Exeter’s lauded psychedelics research center by sharing their expertise through training with therapists, mental health advocates, healthcare workers, and anyone else in the space of psychedelics. The University of Exeter recently unveiled the plans at Europe’s largest psychedelics conference Breaking Convention.
The “psychedelic renaissance” is going global. Australia established itself as the first country to allow psychiatrists to prescribe psychedelics for treatment-resistant depression. And now, we can appreciate further efforts such as The University of Exeter’s training across the pond. In the United States, this is demonstrated in ketamine-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression, to the legalization efforts of psilocybin therapy in states like Oregon and Colorado, to the soon-to-be-secured legal status of MDMA to treat PTSD. Of course, remember that indigenous cultures, as with their relationship with peyote, have consistently recognized the spiritual benefits of psychedelic therapy, so the word “renaissance” is always used with a caveat.
With that in mind, granted that as a result of the pandemic, mental health is on everyone’s minds, whether they’re struggling and searching for the proper treatment or looking to help others through psychedelics (or both). Therefore, any help in normalizing the psychedelic medicine community is welcome. This is especially true if the information is rooted in science and directed at communities that need it most, such as those treating mental health patients, such as Psychedelics: Mind, Medicine, and Culture.
Reflecting the growing interest and new (by our standards) acceptance of psychedelic medicine, the Guardian reports that the psychedelic healthcare market will be worth $8.3 billion by 2028. Psychedelics: Mind, Medicine, and Culture aim to educate healthcare workers on how to safely work with psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, and other psychoactive drugs in therapeutic work, to help ensure that money creates the best outcome for patients.
In addition to successfully spreading science-approved info on psychedelics by creating a certificate on the topic with the backing of the respected Exeter University, this program aims to garner trust from outside parties regarding the safety and efficacy of psychedelic-assisted therapies. Psychedelics: Mind, Medicine, and Culture also aims to pave the way for other programs, creating a blueprint that could help introduce new therapies that will become available over the next five years as treatments finish their final stages of clinical trials.
Celia Morgan, a professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter and a co-lead of the program, said: “As the world wakes up to the potential for psychedelics to be an important part of the toolkit to treat some of our most damaging mental health conditions, it’s vital that we’re training the workforce to meet the demand. The global body of high-quality evidence is now irrefutable – psychedelics can work where other treatments have failed.”
Morgan made sure to note that the most significant challenges to accessing psychedelic therapeutic mental health care were legal rather than about any medical risk. She continued: “This shows how far we have come from the fear and stigma that dogged this field for years, a change which we also see reflected in leading universities around the world conducting gold-standard clinical trials…we remain optimistic that this may change in the UK with the increasing weight of evidence, as it is starting to in countries like the US and Australia.”
University of Exeter’s postgraduate program includes existing psychedelic therapies, psychiatry and neuroscience, and philosophy, in addition to addressing the importance of decolonizing psychedelic research.