MAPS Canada announces its new partnership with the groundbreaking non-profit Roots To Thrive

MAPS Canada announces its new partnership with the groundbreaking non-profit Roots To Thrive, Canada’s first and only healthcare practice to legally offer psychedelic-assisted group therapy, research, and training for healthcare professionals.

Roots-To-Thrive-Image-Shannon, Pam, Geraldine
Pam Kryskow, MD | Geraldine Manson, Lead Elder, Vancouver Island University | Shannon Dames RN, MPH, EdD

MAPS Canada is pleased to announce its new partnership with the groundbreaking, non-profit healthcare organization Roots To Thrive, based in Nanaimo, BC in collaboration with the Snuneymuxw First Nation and Vancouver Island University.

Founded in 2019, Roots to Thrive is Canada’s first and only multidisciplinary, non-profit healthcare practice to legally offer evidence-informed, multi-week group therapy programs that include psilocybin-assisted and ketamine-assisted group therapy sessions.

Roots to Thrive recently achieved two historic firsts in Canada: it offered the first psilocybin group therapy program for patients facing life-threatening illness; and received the first-ever Health Canada Special Access Program request approvals for any psychedelic therapy for that program.

MAPS Canada is supporting Roots to Thrive through fundraising and communications to promote decolonization and reconciliation in its delivery of community-based, psychedelic medicine-assisted therapies, research, and training.

“We are honoured to be partnering with Roots to Thrive to amplify its work and to help raise funds that will allow more people to access its programs,” says Scott Bernstein, Executive Director of MAPS Canada. “Canada currently spends billions of dollars dealing with our overwhelming lack of mental health supports. Roots to Thrive’s unique approach to mental healthcare and healing for people with deep trauma and suffering is a model that could and should be publicly funded and scaled throughout the country.”

Working with Vancouver Island Health and Health Canada, Roots to Thrive provides multi-week, virtual mental healthcare programs (which include in-person psilocybin-assisted and ketamine-assisted therapy sessions) for physician-referred patients experiencing a range of diagnoses including but not limited to PTSD; treatment-resistant depression; eating disorders; substance use disorder; OCD; and end-of-life distress.

The Roots to Thrive team is led by regulated healthcare professionals, including Dr. Shannon Dames, RN, MPH, EdD; palliative care physician Dr. Valorie Masuda, MD; and Dr. Pamela Kryskow, MD. All team members have been trained in supporting and facilitating legal psychedelic therapy. The entire team includes over twenty experienced physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, registered clinical counselors, Indigenous knowledge keepers, somatic therapists, cultural and spiritual care practitioners, and trained facilitators.

“To thrive, humans need meaning, purpose and connection,” states Dr. Shannon Dames, who co-developed the framework for Roots to Thrive. “When these basic needs are met, we can shift our experience of distress and despair. This experience, using the Roots to Thrive community of practice [group support] model for psilocybin-assisted and ketamine-assisted therapies, underscores the value of healing in relationship with others.”

Through its partnership with Vancouver Island University (VIU), Roots to Thrive also provides practicum mentorship and training for Canada’s first graduate certificate-level Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Program, offered by the VIU Faculty of Health and Human Services. The program was developed by Roots to Thrive’s Dr. Shannon Dames, who is also a Professor of Nursing and Health Professional-Investigator at VIU, and Dr. Pamela Kryskow, who is also an Adjunct Professor at VIU.

The results of Roots to Thrive’s programs are currently being reviewed for publication. After one year of serving nearly 200 patients, participants are self-reporting significant positive results for depression, PTSD, anxiety, and life/work functionality. Roots to Thrive currently has over 800 people on its waiting list for its 12-week, ketamine-assisted group therapy program, and is currently offering its second psilocybin-assisted group therapy program.

Says Chelle Sheehan, a participant in Roots to Thrive’s first-in-Canada psilocybin-assisted group therapy program: “The effect this experience has been so dramatic I barely know how to express it. And the results are constantly increasing. To be able to participate at no cost was a miracle for me. The only reason my story is so successful, I think, isn’t so much about the session with psilocybin as much as it’s the format of the entire eight weeks and the support afterward: the care, the love, how the team got to know us, with everyone identifying with and listening to one another.”

Read full media release here.

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