Now more than ever, mental health has become a top priority, especially with the pandemic. In fact, according to NeonMind Biosciences (CSE:NEON) (OTC:NMDBF), deaths, economic hardship and unprecedented restrictions on social interaction has already had a marked effect on people’s mental health. At the moment, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll, more than 40% of people in the US reported deteriorating mental health including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder due to the pandemic. Stepping in to help are companies, such as NeonMind Biosciences, CloudMD Software & Services Inc. (TSXV:DOC)(OTCQB:DOCRF), Morneau Shepell Inc. (TSX:MSI), Compass Pathways (NASDAQ:CMPS), and MindBeacon Holdings Inc. (TSX:MBCN).
Even pharmaceutical companies need to catch up. According to The Guardian, “The number of psychopharmacological drugs research programs in larger drug firms has shrunk by 70% in the past decade.” In addition, “In general the larger companies have walked away from psychiatry,” they noted. “There are a few companies who have maintained efforts in the area but 70% tells you it’s been a pretty remarkable departure. Many withdrew from neuroscience entirely.”
In short, big changes are needed, as millions deal with mental health issues. Without the help, the world could see even bigger declines in mental health.
Look at NeonMind Biosciences, for example
NeonMind Biosciences Inc. (CSE: NEON)(OTC: NMDBF), a psychedelic drug development company, announced that it is establishing a medical services division for the delivery of evidence-backed innovative treatments for a variety of mental health needs including psychedelic modalities and other newer treatments for mood disorders such as depression.
NeonMind is assembling a team of experts to plan and launch a chain of NeonMind branded clinics in Canada. Working with health care communities and tailoring to local market needs, these clinics will offer various treatments for mental health, including psychedelic therapeutics and drug-enhanced psychotherapy.
“Our vision is to build an integrated services platform and comprehensive set of programs aimed at delivering specialized treatments combined with traditional modalities for a variety of mental health conditions and right-sized for local needs,” said Robert Tessarolo, President & CEO of NeonMind. “A major impetus for this strategic decision is that psychedelic drugs used to enhance psychotherapy are set to be a game-changing treatment tool, and infrastructure development is needed to provide access points for these innovative treatments.”
In Canada, ketamine and esketamine are currently the only psychedelic substances that may legally be prescribed and administered in medical clinics, but there is a large and growing pipeline of psychedelic drug development programs with clinical trials underway evaluating other substances including psilocybin. Importantly recent clinical trial results with psilocybin treatment are showing promise.
The platform will be designed to expand to increase offerings of drug-enhanced psychotherapies over time. NeonMind aims to gain an early-mover advantage, establish a strategic footprint and have operations ready to accommodate a future surge from potential psychedelic drug approvals.
“We believe that there are gaps that have not yet been filled for localized services and underserved markets, and will begin laying our foundations now with specialty mental health services, and then evolve our clinic model over time with changing market needs and availability of new drug-enhanced psychotherapies,” added Rob Tessarolo.
NeonMind has appointed Ernie Ho as VP, Corporate Development with his initial focus to be the development of the team to build out medical services as well as to identify and assess partnership and acquisition targets. Ernie’s background spans both biopharma and healthcare services having experience in product development, commercialization, and corporate development. At LifeLabs, Canada’s largest medical diagnostics provider, he developed and successfully launched innovative medical services with a focus on client needs and improved outcomes including point-of-care testing and mobile testing services.
“Ernie also has extensive experience in biopharma including playing pivotal roles in licensing and M&A at Cipher Pharmaceuticals and raising capital to support product development at Therapure Biopharma (now part of Resilience Biotechnologies). These skill sets are highly complementary to our company strategy.”
Now more than ever, mental health is having a devastating impact on society and access to treatments remains an issue. The devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic — millions of deaths, economic hardship and unprecedented restrictions on social interaction — has already had a marked effect on people’s mental health. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll, more than 40% of people in the US reported deteriorating mental health including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder due to COVID-19, representing 2 – 4 times the number affected people before COVID. 38% of participants in a Matchbox survey in Canada reported a decline in mental health due to COVID-19.
Other related developments from around the markets include:
CloudMD Software & Services Inc., a healthcare technology company revolutionizing the delivery of care, is excited to announce that it has signed a binding agreement to acquire Oncidium Inc., one of Canada’s leading healthcare providers to employers. Oncidium has built a difficult-to-replicate ecosystem of over 500 clients, more than 1,000 health care providers and medical assessors, and its clients with over 2 million employees across the country. The employer market vertical is the fastest growing area in healthcare and this acquisition makes CloudMD a Canadian leader in the space. Built on over 20 years of experience in the employer health market, Oncidium is one of Canada’s leading health management companies with clients from a number of Canada’s Fortune 500 Companies. Oncidium’s services focus on reducing occupational absence by delivering solutions that improve the health and wellness of employees. Oncidium’s services include solutions that support absentee management, short-term and long-term disability, workers’ compensation claims management, mental health assessment and evaluation services that focus on prevention, accommodation, and recovery. Oncidium’s services are delivered virtually, on-demand and on-site through its network of over 1,000 healthcare professionals, assessors and medical centers nationally.
Morneau Shepell Inc. announced a cash dividend of $0.065 per share for the month of April 2021, to be paid on May 17, 2021 to holders of record of shares of MSI on April 30, 2021.
Compass Pathways, a mental health care company dedicated to accelerating patient access to evidence-based innovation in mental health, welcomed a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) yesterday, which showed signals of positive activity in COMP360 psilocybin compared with the standard antidepressant escitalopram, for major depressive disorder (MDD). The study was designed and conducted by a research team at Imperial College London, using COMPASS’s COMP360 psilocybin.
MindBeacon Holdings Inc., a leading provider of digital mental and behavioural health therapy, announced the launch of an enhanced capability within its MindBeacon digital service designed to help Canadians successfully manage social anxiety as a result of isolation and limited social interaction in preparation for the gradual re-opening of society. Since COVID-19 lockdowns first took hold in March 2020, the majority (56 percent) of Canadians have experienced increased stress or anxiety as a result of the pandemic, with 63 percent of younger Canadians reporting heightened stress or anxiety. Fueled by over a year of pandemic lockdown, isolation and limited social interaction coupled with fears of the return to normalcy, Canadians are coming face-to-face with the realities of social anxiety as it’s redefined for a post-pandemic world. To support increased demand and to equip Canadians with the tools to manage anxiety, MindBeacon has invested in the enhancement of its 12-week Social Anxiety Therapist Guided Program, incorporating new content produced by psychologists specializing in social anxiety.
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