OPINION: It's time to shed the stigma over mental health and expolore this 'breakthrough' therapy

FILE - Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward I am endorsing the Oregon Psilocybin Therapy Ballot Measure, soon to be known as Measure 109, because I believe it will provide a useful new tool to help Oregonians tackle depression, anxiety and addiction.

As a physician legislator, I see one of my core responsibilities as helping lead the collective effort to make Oregon as healthy and safe as possible. We particularly need visionary leadership in the field of mental health, because for far too long there has been a shame and stigma about mental health, and our state has done too little to help so many get the support they need to live happy, productive, healthy lives.

I have never been shy about my own challenges with mental health. I have, like so many of us, worked hard to maintain good mental health, and at times I didn't have the options I needed. Access to adequate care and a wide range of treatment options is critical.

Measure 109 will change the treatment landscape for countless Oregonians by creating a regulated, licensed psilocybin therapy program that will specifically help those who struggle with depression and anxiety.

Serious pioneering research at places like Johns Hopkins and UCLA over the past decade has discovered that psilocybin can be effective in treating depression, anxiety and addiction. The early results are so promising that the Food and Drug Administration recently gave psilocybin "breakthrough therapy" status — meaning that psilocybin therapy could work well where other pharmaceuticals and treatments have failed.

Setting up this system the right way is important. As an experienced legislator who understands the intricacies of health care policy, I am glad that Measure 109 carefully accounts for regulation and structure by putting safeguards and regulations in place to ensure treatment is safe.

Licensed psilocybin therapy will only be available after a two-year development period. A rigorous training and licensing program will be implemented, as will ongoing training and safety checks.

Psilocybin therapy under Measure 109 will be a supervised and monitored treatment, and the law specifically disallows home use of psilocybin. Measure 109 requires that each facilitator conduct a health safety screening prior to the session, and offers an integration appointment after the psilocybin session. E

qually important, the law makes it clear that this is a therapy, and not for recreational use: There are no retail stores allowed; no advertising of psilocybin products; no home growing is allowed. Patients are even required to be dropped off and picked up by a friend or family member when receiving treatment.

If we are going to tackle Oregon's shortcomings in mental illness treatment and behavioral health outcomes, we must create new opportunities for healing. Measure 109 does this in a regulated, responsible way that builds on a decade of research illustrating this treatment can really help.

I hope you'll join me in voting Yes on Measure 109 this fall, and together we'll take an important step forward toward helping Oregonians access the care they deserve.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, District 17, is a family physician who represents Beaverton/Northwest Portland in the Oregon Legislature. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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