*This story was reported on by Chris Moore and Mary Carreon
As part of its ongoing advocacy for psychedelics reform, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps company is giving its employees a chance to try psychedelic medicine for themselves.
On January 1st, the natural soap company added ketamine-assisted therapy to its standard mental health benefits package. These new services are being provided by Enthea, a nonprofit healthcare organization that provides access to psychedelic-assisted therapy. Under this new partnership, any Dr. Bronner's employee can now receive specialized counseling services provided in combination with ketamine infusions.
“The health and well-being of our employees is the primary driver in how we think about benefits and compensation [for our employees],” said Michael Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s, in a statement. “Offering coverage for Ketamine Assisted Therapy is in the interest of providing tools to our workforce to have the best quality of life and best options for mental health care. Our family and company are no strangers to depression and anxiety. We are deeply concerned about the mental health crisis society is facing, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The working relationship between Dr. Bronner’s and Enthea not only creates a pathway for employees to easily access psychedelic therapy, it also drastically reduces the cost of such treatments. Due to the fact ketamine therapy is not covered by the majority of insurance providers, patients often have to drop upwards of $400 to $1000 (or more) for a single treatment depending on the clinic you visit. Dr. Bronner’s covers 100 percent of the cost for eligible employees and dependents.
“Considering all our advocacy on this issue, this employee benefit is the next logical step,” Bronner told MERRY JANE in an email. “We see a clear need for a paradigm shift in the treatment of mental health. Psychedelics appear to be that paradigm shift; offering a way to treat not just a person’s symptoms, but the underlying causes, allowing them a chance at durable, long-lasting improvement.”
Dr. Bronner’s offers premium mental healthcare to all of it’s employees, not just those who want to explore ketamine therapy, Bronner tells MERRY JANE. For employees who require alternative services for mental health, behavioral health, or substance abuse services, Michael Bronner told MERRY JANE that the company offers employees video-based counseling, face-to-face therapy, health coaching, lifestyle management, and more through full-health insurance coverage. Insurance is offered to all employees who work 30 or more hours a week and extends to their eligible dependents.
An estimated 970 million people around the world are currently suffering from mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders, an ongoing crisis that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. But for more than a third of patients seeking treatment for these issues, traditional pharmaceutical and therapeutic treatments have proved ineffective.
Researchers now know that ketamine, psilocybin, MDMA, and other psychedelics are far more effective at treating these conditions, but the global war on drugs makes it exceptionally difficult for patients to access these medicines. Despite hundreds of research studies confirming that most psychedelics offer powerful therapeutic potential, nearly all of these medicines are still prohibited by federal law.
The one exception to the rule is ketamine, a pediatric and veterinary anesthetic that has proved to be an effective treatment for depression, PTSD, and addiction. Based on the strength of this evidence, the FDA approved ketamine as a treatment for extreme depression in 2019, and legal ketamine clinics have sprung up all across North America. Enthea hopes to eventually provide a wide range of psychedelic-assisted therapies, but federal law prevents it from offering any psychedelics other than ketamine.
Fortunately, the feds finally seem willing to listen to science. The DEA recently approved a massive expansion in the quantities of psychedelic medicines that it will legally provide to researchers this year. The FDA has also approved clinical trials that could lead to the legalization of psilocybin- and MDMA-assisted therapy within the next two years. Enthea plans to add these new therapies to its healthcare program as soon as they receive federal approval.
“Psychedelic Assisted Therapy holds tremendous promise for addressing our society’s mental health crisis and improving workforce well-being,” said Enthea CEO Lia Mix in a statement. “At Enthea, we aim to promote ‘Healing from Within.’ This complements Dr. Bronner’s All-One mission, which it demonstrates by treating employees like family in providing exceptional benefits like Ketamine Assisted Therapy. High-performing and forward-thinking companies know the importance of employee mental health.”
The first ketamine clinic to come online for Bronner's employees is Flow Integrative in Encinitas, CA, according to Keith Lietzke, chief business officer with Enthea. They started supporting the Bronner's benefit plan in January. Enthea has also begun discussions to bring on two more San Diego-area clinics. “Currently, we are only offering coverage for ketamine-assisted therapy because it's FDA approved and legally prescribed,” said Lietzke in an email to MERRY JANE. “Once FDA approves MDMA (expected late next year), we will offer coverage for that — with psilocybin likely after that.”
It’s a perfect fit because Dr. Bronner's has been diligently working to advocate for psychedelic medicine on state and federal levels. The company donated over a million dollars to support the successful campaign to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in Oregon, and is now helping to fund a similar effort in Colorado.
“We strive to effect positive change in all our spheres of influence,” said David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s and Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) board member. “The well-being of our employees is paramount to our company culture. We also know from experience that offering strong benefits helps with employee retention and recruitment. We hope to inspire and be a model for other companies and organizations to also partner with Enthea and offer this potentially lifesaving benefit to their staff. As other psychedelic-assisted therapies become available, we look forward to adding benefits for those as well.”