A Bad Trip: A Good I.D.E.A?: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access Strategies in Mental Health & the emerging Psychedelic Industry for 2024
Written By Martin Ali Simms
Mental Healing is widely regarded as a “journey.” Journeys are synonymous with the word “trips.” Coincidently, Psychedelic experiences are called “trips” as well and are regarded as a “part of the healing journey.”
I’ll share my experience of my own personal observations in dealing with the mental health space and emerging psychedelic industry through the “journey” and “trip” metaphors. I will share insights, emotions, triumphs, disappointments, and then solutions.
“The Road Trip”
Now imagine you are preparing for a family road trip. This is a trip that your family regularly takes and one that you are always anticipating, but somehow when it’s time to take the trip, you are either placed in an uncomfortable corner under the weight of baggage, isolated, or left out altogether. EVERY YEAR!
You’re made to feel like when they do bring you, it’s because of some reluctant obligation as opposed to someone who is truly wanted and welcomed on the “trip”.
When it’s time to take breaks and get snacks and resources needed for your comfort for the trip, everybody gets to decide first what their resources are and if there is enough budget left over for you, you can get what’s left to choose from.
If not, sorry, they just didn’t have it in the budget to begin with, yet they are all enjoying that which the budget provided them, despite what you didn’t get.
When you speak up about it, you’re told of all of the obstacles and barriers that were present so they just couldn’t do it for YOU. Sometimes you’re not even thought of when the decisions are made, not even factored into the plans at all.
Imagine you are the reason that these “trips” are even taken in the first place. These healing “trips” were your idea. YOU provided the plans, procedures, rituals, and practices that began this “road trip” of healing in the first place. YOU made it a sacred practice and now you’re only regarded as an afterthought once everybody else realized that this activity could help so many people heal, and the amount of profits that could be made from this becoming a legalized mainstream practice.
So even when you are on this “trip” with them it really just feels like shit.
But you know you still need the “trip” yourself because you know the history and how powerful it can be for your own transformation.
This is the metaphor for the indigenous who originated these sacred plant medicines for these healing road trips.
Despite the stigmas surrounding both mental illness and psychedelics, there has been significant progress in both industries and a recent surge of interest, intention, and investment, accelerated by the conditions of the Pandemic.
I’ve been advocating and working on the convergence of sports and mental health for over half a decade. 2023 was a breakthrough year for me professionally so I was able to gain access to some spaces that were not only inaccessible to me before, but they were also unknown. This includes traditional talk therapy and psychedelics.
I was presented the BET Joy Award for my Mental Health Advocacy presented by Taraji P. Henson’s Boris L. Henson (BLH) Foundation. BLH has been providing no-cost therapy solutions to the black community for over 5 years now. I attended the Psychedelic Science Conference presented by MAPS in Denver. I also had a Keynote Address, plus 3 Panel Discussions at the Wonderland Conference in Miami. I was also a featured speaker on various Online Mental Health Conferences throughout the year.
In gaining access to new networks, as a newbie, and a relative outsider, you notice things that the current occupiers of the space miss because they only see what they’ve been seeing.
Blind spots on a road trip could be deadly, so I will point them out from a different viewpoint as someone who is in the vehicle but not in the Driver’s seat.
I had a bad trip that was hands down my most profound and impactful psychedelic experience. I went back to the site of the most traumatic moment that I witnessed as a child. The one that triggered me the most intensely as an adult. I attempted to process it all through a Magic Mushroom trip with a Shaman friend of mine who held space for me.
My intention was to process the traumatic event that took place when I was a child. That
incident just so happened to be outside of my childhood home. It wasn’t my intention to have to process the ‘OTHER’ past events, experiences, and effects of that house but DAMN THERE WAS A LOT OF ‘OTHER SHIT’ TO PROCESS.
I suppressed more shit than I was consciously aware of.
This is where I learned of how strong our ability is to suppress difficult emotions from the traumatic events we experience. The effects have grave implications.
The industries of psychology and psychedelics have both suppressed their histories of prejudice, discrimination, exclusion, and exploitation.
My goal is to bring solutions to this, which brings me to a known ally for haphazard conditions on “trips”
“AAA” represents the solutions I have identified for the leaders and innovators of these industries to create healing change that prioritizes those of underserved groups that are so easily forgotten about.
The “AAA” Solution is to: Attract. Access. Amplify
Attract: Reach out to leaders of Underrepresented Demographics by:
- Creating awareness campaigns that target and welcome these demographics to explore the breakthrough possibilities of mental health solutions and psychedelics. Include them in the planning and execution of the campaigns.
- Utilize their leaders and influencers in the promotions and advertisements of events and experiences that are being offered to other demographics.
- Leverage supportive athletes and former athletes, who have been proven to transcend cultural and racial divides, to promote to the underserved groups
Access: Provide Access via Scholarships and Sponsorships to:
- Events such as conferences and networking events to offset some groups from being excluded due to being priced out of these opportunities.
- Educational courses, such as trainings, courses, workshops, and seminars to help increase their knowledge bases.
- Certification Courses – which allows each individual to increase their knowledge base and their professional offerings
Amplify: Use already established platforms to help increase exposure to leaders and innovators of Underrepresented Groups by:
- Prioritizing speaking opportunities for them
- Booking the leaders for radio, TV, and Podcasting appearances
- Contracting, employing, and seeking insights from them in the preparing and planning stages of events and experiences so that they can be authentically represented and financially supported for their contribution to the growth of these healing modalities and industries.
At the end of a “trip” we want to feel like we had fun, adventure, and that we had access to all the things that were available for us to experience. We also don’t want to feel as if the things that are being championed, celebrated, and promoted to others are being denied to us, for whatever reason.
We want to experience THE BREAKTHROUGH EXPERIENCE, too, and not feel like we are “trippin” for wanting to be included in it.