HB 167: Psychotherapy Mental Health Task Force
This bill passed the House 68-1 and passed the Senate 23-1.
Mental health is a tremendous issue that Utah is struggling with alongside other states. Lack of good treatment options and cultural stigma have led to unnecessary suffering for millions of people, sometimes leading to suicide. It impacts anyone and everyone, crossing boundaries of race, gender, and age, and unfortunately, there hasn’t been a cure-all way to fix the issues that stem from these problems. In a search to find just that, some legislators are looking beyond Western pharmaceuticals to alternative forms of medicine to try to find something that can help.
Representative Brady Brammer is sponsoring House Bill 167 in order to commission a task force to explore psychotherapy drugs for mental illness treatment. The bill would create a group of medical and legal professionals to convene to study the legitimacy of psychotherapy drugs for mental health (for example, psilocybin — the active ingredient in what are sometimes called “magic mushrooms”). There is substantial and extremely promising research that has been conducted in recent years that this group can review as they consider what a path forward might be for Utah to consider allowing this option legally.
The group would meet and provide recommendations on:
- specific types and symptoms of mental illness for which the psychotherapy drug could be used as a treatment option;
- appropriate administration and dosage;
- any license or credential requirement for individuals administering said drugs;
- training that could be helpful for administers of the drug;
- the frequency at which psychotherapy drug may be used;
- any procedures to obtain, store, and monitor the use of the drugs;
- safety requirements and procedures for data tracking, and more.
The task force will then provide a written report to the Health and Human Services Interim Committee before November. The committee will then presumably take the recommendations and decide how (or if) to move forward with potential legislation to expand treatment options for those with mental illness.
States like Oregon and cities like Denver and Washington, DC, have already decriminalized psychedelics or allowed medicinal psychotherapy drugs. Notwithstanding these efforts, Utah has the opportunity to be a leader in providing new and promising therapeutics to those suffering from severe anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more — by ensuring these alternative substances can be safely provided under an appropriate regulatory regime that ensures patients can get access to treatment options that can help them.