Ketamine today. MDMA next. Then psilocybin and others, too
“What was something amazing that happened to you this weekend,” Mindbloom’s CEO Dylan Benyon asked me, less than 30 seconds into our call. His bright eyes and relaxed demeanor radiated a deep peace and presence, paired with what seemed like a genuine care for the other person on the call — something that’s rare in an interview with a CEO. Sure, he was talking with a journalist to further Mindbloom’s mission, but he was modeling something that runs deep in the mental health startup’s DNA: being there for others.
Benyon built Mindbloom after finding deep healing for himself in psychedelic medicine. For him, the journey started a few years ago when he experienced a facilitated MDMA treatment. Apart from wanting more people to experience the radical healing powers of promising medicines that were chased underground as collateral damage to the war on drugs in the 1980s, Benyon has seen the mental health medical machine failing people very close to home.
“Mental health is the number one public health crisis, and depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people 18 to 35 and the number three cause of death for people 35 to 55,” Benyon rattled off the statistics, before the words got stuck in his throat. “My sister and my mother became fentanyl overdose statistics last year and the year before. This is deeply personal and meaningful to me. And when you look at the root cause of why we’re losing the fight to the mental health crisis … our existing treatment options just aren’t getting the job done.”
Benyon’s sister and mother both had severe mental illnesses, Benyon said. Navigating the mental health options available to them was harder than finding more accessible relief in self-medicating with fentanyl.
“My family was obliterated by mental illness. My mother was schizophrenic and an addict. My sister was schizophrenic and an addict. For both of them, wee tried the traditional treatments: antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, anti-psychotics, one-on-one therapy, group therapy, in-patient rehab, out-patient rehab … Unfortunately, none of them worked well enough,” Benyon said. “My mother ended up spending 15 years homeless because we weren’t able to help her. My sister would have been homeless if she wasn’t sheltered by my father. She died of a fentanyl overdose after getting out of rehab last year.”