CALGARY, Jan. 28, 2021 – ATMA Journey Centers Inc. (“ATMA”), an Alberta-based company focused on delivering innovative psychedelic-assisted therapies internationally, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ravinder (Ravi) Bains, MD, as Chief Medical Officer (“CMO”). In conjunction with ATMA, Dr. Bains was the first psychiatrist in Canada to conduct legal psychedelic-assisted therapy using psilocybin at a private facility, and he will be leading the medical team and protocols utilized at ATMA Journey Centers in Canada.
David Harder, co-CEO of ATMA, said: “We’re thrilled to have Dr. Bains join the ATMA team at such a significant moment in time. Not only is Dr. Bains respected and accomplished in the field of psychiatry, but he also has the tremendous compassion and belief in psychedelic medicine necessary to allow ATMA to deliver services with world-class medical expertise and guidance.”
Dr. Bains has been a practicing psychiatrist and psychotherapist for 15 years and has focused his career on offering patients innovative and wholistic ways of improving their mental health.
Dr. Bains stated, “I believe that the remarkable potential of psychedelic medicine places us on the threshold of a mental health revolution. The emergent data over the past few years is beyond compelling, and I am pleased that my role at ATMA will allow me to work with one of the pioneering organizations in Canada with the vision and resource to translate science into genuine healing and transformation.”
Giving deference to the ongoing place of traditional pharmaceuticals in psychiatric practice, Dr. Bains envisions psychedelic-assisted therapy having the potential to revolutionize how we define and treat mental health issues.
Contrasting the decades long trend towards ever increasing rates of psychotropic prescribing with paradoxically increasing rates of chronic mental health disorders, addictions, disability and even suicide, Dr. Bains hopes the impending psychedelic revolution will finally “help bridge the yawning gap” between treatment and outcome. “It’s difficult to look at the data and not question the effectiveness of conventional approaches”, added Dr. Bains.
“I have not seen much evidence in my 15 years of practice to support the historical contention that mental health issues are primarily a result of genetic disorders or chemical imbalances; rather, my experience is that mental health issues are more often understandable as being consequence of early adverse life events, ongoing life stressors, social determinants of health, and even existential issues, with regards to which traditional psychiatric treatments typically fall short.”
“Most therapies in use today – aside from the psychotherapies – are suppressive in nature, in effect blunting emotional and anxiety pathways. While this model can be helpful or even life-saving, it’s not a model of healing, wellness or wholeness. Compounding the problem is that traditional pharmaceuticals, while of limited efficacy, are also far from benign, typically coming with an array of unpleasant or even dangerous side effects. Too many patients struggle to find relief in the long run.”
In Dr. Bain’s view, “Psychedelic assisted therapies are expressive rather than suppressive, providing an opportunity to move beyond simply palliation to helping patients work through traumatic material and move towards genuine transformation. They also routinely transcend the traditional bio-psycho-social model of mental health and bring to the fore the critical element of spirit in the healing process.”
Concluded Dr. Bains, “it’s important that we acknowledge the remarkable body of science around psychedelics; however, it’s the responsible and effective implementation of these powerful new technologies that is now the task at hand, and it’s here that ATMA is poised to be a true leader in the field.”
Added Harder from ATMA: “Canada already faced a serious mental health crisis before COVID-19, but now it is a pressing and urgent issue that needs to be addressed. As a result, next week we will be submitting a Collective Application to Health Canada for a Section 56 Exemption on behalf of hundreds of Canadians that are struggling with serious and debilitating mental health conditions that simply cannot wait for help.”
In the past year, Health Canada has approved approximately 25 applications from Canadians seeking an exemption to the current laws that prohibit the use of psychedelics in Canada. ATMA was the first private company in Canada to conduct legal psychedelic-assisted therapy with psilocybin, one of the active hallucinogens found in “magic mushrooms”.
AS CMO, one of Dr. Bain’s first priorities will be providing the medical oversight and review of ATMA’s Collective Application, and to lead the treatment and protocols for ATMA’s growing team of mental health professionals.
According to Harder, “Health Canada has demonstrated global leadership in their recognition and advancement of psychedelic-assisted therapy as a tool in the mental health battle Canadians are facing. The crisis we face is daunting, yet we’re prepared to meet the challenge because of talented team members like Dr. Bains who are committed to being part of the change.”