More data sought for psychedelic treatment

·1-min read

Australia's top health bureaucrat wants to see more data on how mind-altering psychedelic drugs can be used to treat depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

Data on such substances for mental health treatment is still emerging and based on small studies, department of health boss Brendan Murphy says.

Some initial data is promising, particularly for treating PTSD compared to depression.

"It would be fair to say there is not a strong evidence base yet, there are some exciting small-scale studies and we need more and better data," Prof Murphy told a Senate hearing in Canberra on Wednesday.

"If it were effective in depression, this treatment, it would be very significant indeed."

The government last week announced $15 million in grants to begin clinical trials looking at the use of new therapies to treat debilitating mental illnesses.

It could cover trials for the controlled use of ketamine, psilocybin, and MDMA, in conjunction with psychological and psychiatric care.

Prof Murphy said he had been briefed by Mind Medicine Australia, a charity focused on expanding mental health treatment to include psychedelic-assisted therapies.

While it was an area of "significant interest" authorities were not yet convinced, he said, hence the trials.

The potential for broader treatments was also raised in Victoria's royal commission into the state's mental health system.

The federal government estimates more than 14 per cent of Australian adults have an anxiety disorder, while up to 12 per cent will experience PTSD in their life.

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