Sheppard Pratt, the Towson-based behavioral health provider, said it is opening a new center to provide care for hard-to-treat illnesses that will include use of psilocybin, a psychedelic medication.
Psilocybin will be used in research at a center within Sheppard Pratt’s new Institute for Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics, which will bring together a range of clinicians and treatments.
Sometimes called magic mushrooms, psilocybin has shown to be effective in clinical trials for treatment-resistant depression and other mood disorders, though it remains illegal at the federal level, where it’s listed as a schedule 1 drug under the U.S. Controlled Substance Act.
The center will continue collaboration between Sheppard Pratt, the state’s largest provider of mental health and substance use treatment, and COMPASS Pathways, a mental health care company based in the United Kingdom. They already had worked together on research into psilocybin, known to have hallucinogenic effects and produce altered states of consciousness.
“Our ambition at COMPASS is to transform mental health care, which today is not good enough for far too many people,” said George Goldsmith, CEO and co-founder of COMPASS Pathways, in a statement. “Working with the talented and committed team at Sheppard Pratt has already accelerated our combined research and efforts to develop evidence-based innovation for people who are suffering with mental health illness, and we are excited to do even more.”
The center, called the Center of Excellence for Psilocybin Research and Treatment, will be on Sheppard Pratt’s Towson campus.
Other major psilocybin studies have been conducted at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The university launched the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine in 2019.
Dr. Harsh K. Trivedi, president and CEO of Sheppard Pratt, noted the other treatments that also will be used in the institute, including its existing Electroconvulsive Therapy, known as ECT, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, which are neurostimulation treatments that target specific areas of the brain.
“There is a tremendous need for mental health care in local communities, across the nation, and around the world. People are struggling to find their best path forward,” Trivedi said. “The Institute offers innovative treatments and access to the most advanced psychopharmacology to help people find the right modality that will work best for them.”