Americans are struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic after months of harsh lockdowns, widespread disease and economic suffering that has fallen disproportionately on the young, minorities and those who are most vulnerable to financial shocks.
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds the number of Americans reporting adverse mental health or behavioral changes — like drinking or drug use — on a perilous rise in recent months.
About a quarter of Americans reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder, three times higher than what a similar survey found a year ago. Those reporting depression has quadrupled, to nearly a quarter.
About 13 percent of Americans said they were drinking or using drugs more because of the stress of the pandemic. And almost 11 percent said they had seriously considered suicide in the last month, including more than a quarter of those between 18 and 24 years old.
Potential treatments for severe depression, addiction and other mental health disorders are being held up by excessive restrictions on psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, scientists and politicians have said.
Clinical trials suggest that psilocybin may be a safe and effective medicine for patients with certain psychiatric illnesses who do not respond to talking therapies, antidepressants and other drugs. But researchers say their work is being stymied by the government placing the strictest possible controls on the chemical compound.
In a report published on Monday, the Adam Smith Institute, a free market thinktank, and the Conservative drug policy reform group, urge ministers to order a review of psilocybin and remove the obstacles faced by researchers.
Under Home Office regulations, psilocybin is classified as a schedule 1 drug, along with raw opium, LSD, ecstasy and cannabis, and is not considered a medicinal compound. While clinical trials are allowed under licence, obtaining one takes more time and money than many researchers can afford, the authors say.
Robin Carhart-Harris Read more
The report calls on government to make psilocybin a schedule 2 drug, a move that would dramatically cut the cost and time taken to obtain a licence and remove the stigma surrounding research into the drug.