A Need for Mental Healthcare Innovation  

The future health of individuals and societies depends upon improving the efficacy of mental health treatment and ensuring broad access for those in need.

A Need for Mental Healthcare Innovation  

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

The world was facing a mental health crisis before we were struck by a global pandemic in 2020.¹ 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.²  


Key Takeaways
  • There has been relatively little innovation in the field of mental health treatment in the last 70 years³

  • Mounting evidence is highlighting the profound effects of COVID-19 on the wellbeing and mental health of populations around the world² 

  • Breakthroughs in research and new technologies have the potential to transform mental healthcare and provide lasting relief to many¹⁴

  • 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 innovation¹

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 years³
  • 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
  • Mental health disorders are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide¹⁰

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 seconds¹¹
  • People with mood disorders are at a much higher risk of developing long term medical conditions and are more likely to die prematurely¹²
  • 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 2018¹³
  • 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 consequence²

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 and will be explored in-depth in a future article. 

Recent breakthroughs in research are contributing towards a new understanding of mental health and paradigm shifting treatment modalities.

Psychedelics are the most promising of the new treatments utilising this paradigm.¹⁴ 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. 

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.¹⁵ In fact, it was discovered that subjective music experience correlated more strongly with positive outcomes than any drug related variable, summarised in a previous article.¹⁵ 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 system. For a deeper understanding of the research foundations and mechanics behind the design of Wavepaths' system, see this article

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.

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.

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 a weekly guided session. 

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