Study Update: Phase 2 of the Bipolar Psilocybin Project

on February 25, 2021
Study Update: Phase 2 of the Bipolar Psilocybin Project

Hi, everyone!

We are thrilled to update you on our ongoing progress with “BiPsi”– the bipolar psilocybin project that researchers from the University of British Columbia and University of California, San Francisco are collaboratively creating. Our international survey of psychedelic mushroom use among folks with bipolar disorder has been a huge success. We received a total of 450 responses from people with bipolar disorder across 25 different countries. Now, with the information we’ve received from our international participants, we have officially closed the survey and are moving forward to the next phase of the study.

Next Steps

This next phase entails individual interviews with a subset of our survey respondents. Our team is carefully selecting up to 20 respondents from across the US and Canada who reported varied experiences using psychedelic mushrooms. Our aim is to expand on the survey information by gathering in-depth details and stories about why, where, and how people with bipolar disorder have used “magic mushrooms.” We are particularly focused on learning about any risks or benefits people report experiencing, and how these outcomes have impacted mood symptoms and psychosocial wellbeing.

Our Focus on Social Justice

Throughout this study, our team has been centering the importance of racial equity and social justice. We have aimed to use this project to enhance the inclusivity of culturally diverse groups in psychedelic research spaces. As researchers have noted, the financial burden, time commitment, and professional culture of western clinical research has often served to exclude culturally diverse groups from feeling able and welcome to participate (Williams, Reed, & Aggarwal, 2020). As a result, the majority of research participants in modern psychedelic trials have identified predominantly as white (Michaels, Purdon, Collins, & Williams, 2018). Issues of exclusion in psychedelic and mental health research extend beyond ethnoracial identity as well, and include intersecting aspects of character such as gender identity, education level, and social standing.

“To fulfill our moral duty to represent all people in clinical research (and to improve the quality of our science!), our team has taken steps to create equitable access to study participation.”

To fulfill our moral duty to represent all people in clinical research (and to improve the quality of our science!), our team has taken steps to create equitable access to study participation. We opened our survey for international input so that multicultural people with bipolar disorder could voice their experiences in this study. We have selected interview participants with diverse demographic backgrounds and life experiences so that our data represents people from a broad array of social locations. We are also paying participants for their time interviewing with us as a way of honoring the time and energy required to participate.

Our hope is that the interview portion of BiPsi will further expand researchers’ understanding about the safety and impact of psychedelic mushroom use in multicultural people with bipolar affective disorders. As we continue through phase 2 of our study, we will also be working to analyze data from the international survey. Please stay tuned for more updates soon!


Resources to Learn More

Here are a few resources for more information about diversity in psychedelic research:

Michaels, T. I., Purdon, J., Collins, A., & Williams, M. T. (2018). Inclusion of people of color in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: a review of the literature. BMC Psychiatry, 18(245), 1-14. [link]

Neitzke-Spruill, L. (2020). Race as a component of set and setting: How experiences of race can influence psychedelic experiences. Journal of Psychedelic Studies, 4(1), 51-60. doi: 10.1556/2054.2019.022
Williams, M. T., Reed, S., & Aggarwal, R. (2020). Culturally informed research design issues in a study for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Psychedelic Studies. doi: 10.1556/2054.2019.016 [link]

Queering Psychedelics
Queering Psychedelics was a conference that last took place in 2019. It highlighted myriad queer perspectives and queer issues from within the psychedelics community, and took a look at the history of psychedelics from a queer perspective, with respect to how queerfolk have shaped the community as we know it today. YouTube videos of the talks are available at this link.

People of Color Psychedelic Collective
The People of Color Psychedelic Collective is dedicated to psychedelic healing and education in US, and the acknowledgement of people of colour’s work in psychedelics. They provide psychedelics education and an inclusive space where people of colour can learn about the healing effects and history of psychedelics, and heal the harm the War on Drugs has done to BIPOC communities.


Previous Posts About the Bipolar Psilocybin Study

A poster with a picture of Dr. Mollie Pleet. She has long, wavy, blonde hair, glasses and is smiling. The right side of the poster is a red box interposed over the photo, with 'Study Update: Bipolar & Magic Mushrooms' written in pale yellow. There is a cartoony yellow mushroom with two red sparkles emanating from it. There is also a little white logo in the right bottom corner that shows an icon of a human with their brain outlined, and a heart in the brain. It says 'BANDLab.'
Bipolar Magic Mushrooms Survey: seeking perspectives from BIPOC
We want to make sure our results speak for ALL people.
A poster picturing a warm forest in autumn. In the foreground, two small tan mushrooms extend from a vibrant green patch of moss. The image is animated, and the mushrooms are pulsating with light. 'Study Now Open! Bipolar & Psilocybin' is splashed across the image in bold, italic letters.
Now open: Bipolar and Magic Mushrooms Study 🍄
Folks with all forms of bipolar disorder are welcome to complete an online questionnaire about their psilocybin experiences!
A poster with a single, glowing yellow mushroom standing on a mossy log. Little motes of light float around the dark woodland in the background, creating a sense of magic. '“Shrooming” with Bipolar Disorder' is written in a serif font across the image.
“Shrooming” with Bipolar Disorder: A Psilocybin Survey Study
The goal of the study? To assess the safety, impact, and cultural practices of “magic mushroom” use among adults with bipolar disorder.

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