Innovation in Mental Healthcare

Innovation in Mental Healthcare

ALEXANDRIA ANDERSON,
Wavepaths Content Lead •

The world was facing a mental health crisis before we were struck by a global pandemic in 2020.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only exacerbated worrying mental health trends, leading to an increased urgency for innovation in mental healthcare approaches and provision.

The need for new solutions has only increased in urgency as the impact of COVID-19 leaves a pandemic of mental health in its wake.

The economic cost is immense, the human cost even greater. Numbers paint a bleak picture of the current global mental health crisis.

Key Takeaways

    • There has been relatively little innovation in the field of mental health treatment in the last 70 years

    • Mounting evidence is highlighting the profound effects of COVID-19 on the wellbeing and mental health of populations around the world

    • Breakthroughs in research and new technologies have the potential to transform mental healthcare and provide lasting relief to many

    • As new therapeutic approaches, protocols and technologies are developed; it is important to raise awareness and increase access to new treatment options

Mental healthcare desperately needs innovation

Even prior to COVID-19, mental health conditions were becoming increasingly prevalent, accounting for about 13% of the global burden of disease.

Following a long term global underinvestment in mental health, our ability to respond to, and recover from the many impacts of the pandemic is stress-inducing in and of itself. Therefore, in order to minimise global impact, it is paramount that unmet mental health needs are adressed.

The pandemic has increased both the need for, and barriers to access support. Physical distancing measures among other factors have increased levels of anxiety, depression, stress, loneliness and impaired sleep, whilst at the same time limiting access to in-person therapeutic interventions, traditional therapeutic outlets and support systems.

Mental health statistics paint an alarming picture

The future health of individuals and societies depends upon improving the efficacy of mental health treatment and ensuring broad access for those in need. The numbers paint an alarming picture:

    • 1 in 4 people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives
    • 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year
    • 66% of patients remain symptomatic
    • 33% of patients are treatment-resistant
    • 30% of patients do not respond to any treatment at all
    • Treatment efficacy has not improved for 70 years
    • It’s estimated the growing crisis will cost the world €16 trillion by 2030
    • COVID-19 has disrupted or halted mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide

The Growing Cost of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide
While the economic cost is substantial, the human cost is even greater. The chronic level of human suffering that remains unsolved is immeasurable.

WHO estimates that one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.

People with mood disorders are at a much higher risk of developing long term medical conditions and are more likely to die prematurely.

In recent years, the number of people who have died from opioid overdose has increased dramatically, with the United States of America seeing an increase of 120% between 2010 and 2018.

Lockdowns intended to halt the spread of COVID-19 have led to increased social isolation, job loss and school closures, with increased anxiety, depression and PTSD following as a consequence.

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.

Innovation in Mental Healthcare is Offering a Beacon of Hope​

Research findings that point to the efficacy of experiential therapies offer a beacon of hope.

There is promise.

Recent breakthroughs in research are contributing towards a new understanding of mental health and paradigm shifting treatment modalities. This new understanding revolves around the concept of ‘Experience as Medicine‘, an approach to mental health which aims to improve outcomes through the mediation of personally meaningful experiences. Such experiences engage the implicit learning system of the brain, facilitating emotional reconnection and release, self-knowledge, autobiographical insight, presence and connection through ‘peak’ experience. “Experience as Medicine” is core to Wavepaths therapeutic approach.

Psychedelic Therapy Shows Great Promise

Psychedelics are the most promising of the new treatments utilising this paradigm.

A “Renaissance” of clinical research on psychedelics indicates safety and efficacy for depression, PTSD, tobacco addiction, alcohol addiction and end-of-life anxiety. In 2019, FDA & EMA granted breakthrough therapy status to Psilocybin for Treatment Resistant (TR) Depression (phase 2 clinical trials), and to MDMA for TR-PTSD (phase 3 clinical trials). As the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic therapy continues to gather evidence, policy reforms around the regulation of psychedelics are following suit. This includes recent policy changes allowing psilocybin therapy to over 21 year-olds in Oregon, and decriminalization initiatives across other areas of the U.S & Canada.

Rethinking Pathways of Care Through Music: Music for Psychedelic Therapy

2020 began with many uncertainties, and a few months into our national lockdowns one thing became clear; that the world was changing in a multitude of ways and this was increasingly likely to impact our own lives.

While the pandemic has restricted freedoms, music offers an outlet of internal exploration that is always available to us: an accessible, alternative approach for supporting mental health and wellbeing at home.

Recent research supports this notion, showing that music was universally effective for achieving goals related to well-being during the pandemic, and that music listening was one of the activities whose importance increased most during lockdowns for facilitating emotional regulation.

Furthermore, the subjective experience of music during psychedelic therapy has been identified as a key factor modulating experiences of personal meaning during sessions, and is intimately tied to positive therapeutic outcomes.

In fact, it was discovered that subjective music experience correlated more strongly with positive outcomes than any drug related variable.

This finding forms the foundation of Wavepaths’ mission to ensure that all therapists have the tools they need to deliver the optimal patient experience of music during psychedelic therapy. In order to facilitate deeply personally meaningful experiences for every individual, the experience requires personalisation and adaptation, core functions of Wavepaths’ generative music.

The insight that music has an important influence on therapeutic outcomes suggests a compelling further thesis; that it is not the psychedelic but the experience – specifically the experience of music – that is the therapeutic agent. A theory that turns the pharmaceutical driven model of mental health treatment on its head.

“Profound, unexpected and sonically beautiful.”

"A massage for the brain."

“A time to relax. A tool to facilitate insight. A feeling of connectedness.”

Wavepaths also provides music as psychedelic therapy in the form of Deep Listening; an approach to mental health that recognises the therapeutic capacity of music alone.

Experience Wavepaths Deep Listening for yourself by joining Wavepaths Deep Listening Community.

If you are a therapist, psychedelic therapist, facilitator or guide and are interested in using Wavepaths music in your practice, sign up for access to Wavepaths.

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