Researchers from University of Washington (UW) are planning to administer psilocybin doses on health workers affected by the COVID19 pandemic with an aim of conducting a new clinical trial which is testing a combination of psilocybin and psychotherapy.
Anthony Back, a physician from the university and co-director of the university’s Center for Excellence in Palliative Care, will be overseeing the clinical trial and says that it will begin this month.
“There’s just a ton of grief from watching all these people die in front of them, who died in a very physically uncomfortable way. There is a lot of moral injury, feeling that they didn’t do enough. A lot of them feel really badly that people’s families were not able to be with them because of COVID isolation procedures,” said Back.
Back has also written a guide on COVID-19 communication skills for health care workers, he emphasizes that health care workers handling COVID-19 patients are suffering from a variety of stressors emanating from the working conditions both environmentally and psychologically.
In addition, Back says patients behave differently with some turning hostile and very difficult to deal with some will even scream at the health workers and even claim that COVID-19 is a lie. “I’ve talked to a number of clinicians who’ve been spit at by patients in the hospital because they’re so angry. And there’s a couple of people who’ve had patients throw bedpans with feces at them,” added Back.
It’s from such experiences that health workers gets traumatized and eventually depressed. “In a way, it’s bigger than just depression. There’s a kind of disillusionment and reckoning going on,” adds Back.
The clinical trial will include 30 health workers suffering from depression, anxiety and existential distress. The trial will also involve a psychotherapy component developed in partnership with Cybin Inc. (NYSE: CYBN).