Building on the previous day’s discussion of the effect of psychedelics on mental health, Dr. Azhar Rana, Chief Medical Officer at Mountain Valley, opened the discussion on what factors are eroding our sense of community. Independent Journalist and Author Sebastian Junger explained that we are social primates who are wired to survive trauma but not on our own. As society has become more affluent, we have become more isolated. On top of this, social media has been a corrosive force in diminishing face-to-face communication.
Psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA have shown some promising results in treating depression and PTSD, noted Dr. Sarah Abedi, Host of The Hidden Body Podcast. These compounds can help create the mental space necessary to face trauma. For veterans, said Jesse Gould, Founder & President of the Heroic Hearts Project, psychedelics are having a profound and quick impact on people who may have suffered for years.
These compounds are ancient, indigenous rights activist Sutton King reminded the audience. They have been used for hundreds or thousands of years in ceremonies and rituals. We need to remain mindful of the difference between appreciation and appropriation, ensuring benefit sharing and access. Continuing on the topic of access, the panelists spoke about some of the important successes of the last few years, including indigenous benefit sharing, access for veterans, and harmony between the medical and community model of care. Ending the session, Junger noted the importance of combining treatment with community infrastructure. He said that AA works because it’s a group: people need to be essential to someone else and have others support them.
“Psychedelics can help somewhat dissolve parts of that ego and allow us to have a more macroscopic view of the internal climate.”
Dr. Sarah Abedi, Host, The Hidden Body Podcast
“Veterans in a lot of ways are bellwethers for the rest of society.”
Jesse Gould, Founder and President, Heroic Hearts Project
“We are wired to survive trauma. The species would not have survived without it but we are not designed to do it by ourselves.”
Sebastian Junger, Independent Journalist and Author
“We can’t tell the history of psychedelics without including the indigenous peoples who have protected and stewarded these medicines.”
Sutton King, Indigenous Rights Activist
“Community is important not just for the psychedelic area but also for mental health generally.”
Dr. Azhar Rana, Chief Medical Officer, Mountain Valley