This year the theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health is a universal right’.
- There have been no new medicines to treat mental health conditions for 50+ years – in order to make real change to the overall quality of life for patients, this must change.
- Limited resources/funding invested into research for the discovery and development of novel medicines to treat mental health conditions has hindered progress.
- Accessibility is key – when new medicines (including treatments such as psychedelic-assisted therapy) become an option, they must be rigorously assessed from an economic perspective to ensure they are not reserved to only a small number of patients who can afford them.
Professor Chris Langmead, Director of the Neuromedicines Discovery Centre, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences states,
“Mental health is a basic human right for everyone, yet one in eight people globally are living with a mental health condition. We need new drugs that are safe and more effective than current options, particularly for difficult to treat mental health conditions. But they also need to be affordable for everyone in need, not just small cohorts of the population.
“Since the 1970s there have been extraordinary breakthroughs in medical treatments for many diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia. Yet new medicines to treat mental health conditions have remained stagnant, due in part to limited resources and funding.
“Recently Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved the use of MDMA and psilocybin for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant depression, respectively. This has opened up really exciting new opportunities for Australia, however there are still major issues to tackle in order for the TGA’s reclassification to benefit those most in need.”