VIU Professor Dr Shannon Dames - photograph supplied by Vancouver Island University
A Vancouver Island University Nursing professor is receiving a federal grant to support her work to develop a new treatment for health-care workers suffering from stress and depression.
The University says Dr. Shannon Dames has been awarded a 50-thousand dollar Canadian Institutes of Health Research Knowledge Synthesis grant to develop a psychedelic medicine-assisted therapy and resilience training program.
V-I-U says Dames is working with health professionals to develop a program that combines resilience development with Ketamine assisted therapy.
Dr. Dames says, “Psychedelics like psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, stimulate serotonin in the brain, which contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.”
Dames says health-care professionals have a greater risk of psychological stress and developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“Rates of depression and PTSD were already high amongst front-line caregivers and international trends are showing us that the COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to widespread emotional distress for those on the front lines.”
V-I-U says Dames is working with health professionals to develop a program that combines resilience development programming with Ketamine assisted therapy.
The current project’s foundation is a resilience-building Roots to Thrive program co-created by Dames with contributions from numerous academics and health professionals.
The program is showing success at using mindfulness and self-compassion to reduce stress.
Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is used to address barriers, relax defenses, and facilitate insight.
“Administered in a supportive, therapeutic environment, it helps cultivate the self-compassion necessary to heal old wounds and work through current fears.”
Vancouver Island University says the team wants to create a treatment program within the BC Health Authority that can then be expanded to include people beyond first responders.
Vancouver Island-based Physician and Psychiatrist Dr. Wei Yi Song says Ketamine infusion therapy has shown promising results for difficult to treat depression.
“However, this type of treatment requires critical care medical practitioners limiting its accessibility.”
He says a program that can work outside of hospitals would improve access to this type of remedy for those who need it most.