At a meeting in the European Parliament last week a Ukrainian MP urged MEPs to help establish his country as the centre of European psychedelic research, in part to provide psychedelic treatment for the estimated 25 million people at risk of chronic mental health disorders such as PTSD as a result of the ongoing invasion by Russia.
As the conflict approaches the end of its second year the MP insisted that MDMA-assisted therapy has to be used in the frontline of treatment for PTSD due to the large number of patients Ukrainian mental health services are currently providing support for.
Dmytro Gurin, a Ukrainian MP in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party said, “We have this catastrophic challenge ahead, and such challenges, they need bold decisions. We are forced to think if we can use psychedelic-assisted therapy as a first line, because of the quantity of patients.”
Last year a WHO report estimated that 10 million, or a quarter of the population of Ukraine may live with some form of mental health disorder, and a more recent report from the Ukrainian Health Committee estimates that 57% of the population, or around 25 million people could be at risk of having mental health issues. The number of people affected is expected to rise as the conflict rages on.
Jarno Habicht, the WHO’s Ukranian spokesman said during a meeting in Geneva last year, “WHO estimates that up to 10 million people are at risk of some form of a mental disorder, varying from anxiety and stress to more severe conditions.”
Many countries and cultures are currently experiencing what some term the psychedelic renaissance, with the use of, as well as people’s interest in both the recreational and medicinal side of these drugs increasing. This is despite psychedelics currently being prohibited by law in nearly all countries.
However, after appearing to recognise the therapeutic potential of psychedelics such as MDMA, Australia and some parts of Canada and the USA. recently passed legislation that allows the use of MDMA-assisted therapy, some parts of Canada and the USA.
Also in the US, the federal government is reviewing evidence and will consider changing the law next year. In the UK, MDMA-assisted therapy is illegal under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.
Gurin made his plea at a meeting of MEPs who are calling for more psychedelic research to be conducted in Europe, named the Action Group for the Medical Use of Psychedelics. They are putting pressure on the EU government to take advantage of the current shake-up the pharmaceutical laws to include treatments that use psychedelic drugs.
Although Ukraine would not need the approval of the EU to make a change to their law to allow them to trial psychedelic-assisted, Gurin said they need financial support, as well as help attracting trained medical staff, “Today we have 13 trauma therapists who can work with psychedelic-assisted therapy. We need 300. There is also a staffing issue. Ukraine has a dire shortage of trained therapists. That’s in large part because USSR rules stigmatised psychiatry, which has been hard to shake off.”