SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – On Monday a panel of doctors, therapists and researchers met to discuss how psychotherapeutics could help in addressing mental health in Utah. 

“My hope is that we can get these patients off of pharmaceuticals that are just continuing the cycle and that we can actually treat these diseases at their core,” said Desiree Hennessy with Utah Patients Coalition. 

According to the panel, right now much of the research involves participants taking a psychedelic like MDMA, LSD or psilocybin during therapy. When the patient has an altered state of consciousness, they say patients are able to have new perspectives and work with a therapist. The panel said there have been promising results in patients dealing with severe depression and PTSD. 

A mental illness psychotherapy task force has been working for several months to study drugs that are illegal in Utah that could be used to treat mental illness. 

Connor Boyack, with Libertas Institute, says Utah was behind the ball when it came to legalizing medical marijuana, but this could be a step in the right direction. 

“We’re hopeful that you can actually take a step forward and be a leader to other states, especially where we have a lot of struggles with our mental health population, we can show, ‘Hey, this is an option, we do want to authorize it, let’s show the rest of the country how it can be done,’” said Boyack. 

According to the University of Utah Health, Utah’s suicide rate has ranked above the national average for the past 20 years. 

The task force is expected to present its findings including a recommendation for the state legislature by the end of the month.