“When it comes to mental health, all options need to be on the table.”

September 26, 2023 (news.va.gov)

By Hans Petersen

VHA News Editor and Air Force Veteran


An audio-only version of podcast can be found here.

VA is committed to safely exploring all avenues that promote the health of our nation’s Veterans. In line with this goal, VA conducts studies under stringent protocols at various facilities nationwide to identify if psychedelic compounds can treat Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and potentially other mental health conditions.

In the new podcast series, New Horizons in Health, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, VA under secretary for Health, leads a candid discussion on psychedelic assisted therapies for Veterans experiencing a number of mental health conditions.

A Marine and Army Veteran who participated in a research trial nine years ago describes the experience and his life after recovery from PTSD and suicidal ideation.

Elnahal is joined by VA subject matter experts who describe in detail the research experience for Veterans and the many safeguards in place to allow Veterans to participate in the programs.

Safety considerations

Research trials include medical monitoring with proper medical and psychiatric screening done in advance. The researchers also make sure Veterans have the necessary social support and structure around them during the trials.

The panel discusses some of the risks with the drugs used and how to manage expected side effects and the monitoring of Veterans during the therapy.

A very important issue discussed is self-medication with the drugs mentioned. The risk for serious injury or death from using drugs that are not prescribed under the care of a medical professional is too high. The research protocols also ensure a Veteran receives the essential psychotherapy component of the treatment needed to achieve positive results.

VA is excited about the potential of these treatments and getting the scientific questions answered. If the science supports it, we want to bring the best and most innovative therapies to Veterans across America.

If you’re a Veteran having thoughts of suicide or concerned about one who is, reach 24/7 crisis support through the new Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) number: Dial 988, then Press 1.

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