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There’s growing excitement around the potential use of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for psychiatric disorders,” says Dr. Leah Mayo, recently recruited by the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education to the position of Parker Psychedelic Research Chair — the first of its kind in Canada. Dr. Mayo (@MayoOnTheBrain) will research the potential use of psychedelics to improve mental health.

The state-of-the-art Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education — which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary — at the University of Calgary is dedicated to advancing research and education on the early identification, treatment, and prevention of mental illness.

While traditional pharmacological treatments with antidepressants and antipsychotics are effective for many people, some people experience adverse effects and less than optimal response, warranting the search for alternative forms of treatments for mental health conditions. Psychedelics such as psilocybin, when administered in a controlled setting by medical professionals, have the potential to produce effective results in a short amount of time when traditional treatments fail.

“We still have a lot to learn,” says Dr. Mayo. “We need a better understanding of what these substances are doing in the brain, which clinical populations stand to benefit the most from their use, and how to best implement them into clinical treatments.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), in any given year, one in five people in Canada will experience a mental health problem or illness. By age 40, about 50 per cent of the population will have or have had a mental illness.

“The research we do at the Mathison Centre, particularly with psychedelic compounds, is pushing the boundaries of our knowledge,” says Dr. Paul Arnold, Director of the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education. “It’s worth the investment to explore new treatments and solutions, providing new hope for people with mental health disorders.”

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