Remembering who we are. Remembering our Wholeness.
We as humans are facing an international mental health crises with nearly half of us having a mental health diagnosis by the age of 40. Emotional exhaustion, burnout, depression, and PTSD are now commonplace within our families, communities, and places of work.
Root to Thrive History. Founded in 2019, Roots to Thrive is Canada’s first and only multidisciplinary, non-profit healthcare practice to legally offer evidence-informed, multi-week, group therapy programs that use a community of practice model, uniquely designed to address trauma and to promote resilience, and to also include the option of psilocybin-assisted and ketamine-assisted group therapy.
While the Roots to Thrive program was originally designed to address caregiver burnout, the program has now adapted to serve all humans A multi-disciplinary group of caregivers, curriculum, indigenous elders, organizational, and administrative experts identified a need among caregivers amid the rising tide of professional burnout and moral injury in healthcare. Motivated to address this need, this collaborative of knowledge keepers applied for and won a number of grants to continue evolving the curriculum to apply to all humans.
The Roots to Thrive program added the option of adding Ketamine-assisted therapy to the community of practice program in 2020, and the additional option of Psilocybin-assisted therapy was added in 2021.
Roots to Thrive recently achieved two historic firsts in Canada: it offered the first whole-mushroom psilocybin group therapy program for patients facing life-threatening illness; and received the first- ever Health Canada Special Access Program request approvals for ANY psychedelic therapy, in any form, for the psilocybin group therapy program.
MAPS Canada is supporting Roots to Thrive through fundraising and communications to promote decolonization and reconciliation in its delivery of community-based, psychedelic medicine-assisted therapies, research, and training of healthcare professionals.
“We are honoured to be partnering with Roots to Thrive to amplify its work and to help raise funds that will allow more people to access its programs,” says Scott Bernstein, Executive Director of MAPS Canada. “Canada currently spends billions of dollars dealing with our overwhelming lack of mental healthcare. Roots to Thrive’s unique approach to supporting healthcare and healing for people with deep trauma and suffering is a model that could and should be publicly funded and scaled throughout the country.”
Working with stakeholders in Vancouver Island Health and Health Canada, Roots to Thrive provides multi-week, virtual mental healthcare programs (which include in-person psilocybin-assisted and ketamine-assisted therapy sessions) for physician-referred patients experiencing a range of diagnoses including but not limited to PTSD; treatment-resistant depression; eating disorders; substance use disorder; OCD; and end-of-life distress within an evidence-based, decolonized, and equity-informed community of practice group therapy model.
The Roots to Thrive team is led by regulated healthcare professionals, including Dr. Shannon Dames, RN, MPH, EdD; palliative care physician Dr. Valorie Masuda, MD, FCFP(EM)(PC), GPO; and Dr. Pamela Kryskow, MD. All team members have been specifically trained in supporting and facilitating legal psychedelic therapy. The entire team includes over twenty experienced physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, registered clinical counselors, Indigenous knowledge keepers, somatic therapists, cultural and spiritual care practitioners, and trained facilitators.
“To thrive, humans need meaning, purpose and connection,” states Dr. Shannon Dames, who co-developed the framework for Roots to Thrive. “When these basic needs are met, we can shift our experience of distress and despair. This experience, using the Roots to Thrive community of practice [group support] model for psilocybin-assisted and ketamine-assisted therapies, underscores the value of healing in relationship with others.”
Through its partnership with Vancouver Island University (VIU), Roots to Thrive also provides practicum mentorship and training for Canada’s first-ever, graduate certificate-level Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Program, offered by the VIU Faculty of Health and Human Services. This program was developed by Roots to Thrive’s Dr. Shannon Dames, who is also a Professor of Nursing and Health Professional-Investigator at VIU, and Dr. Pamela Kryskow, who is also an Adjunct Professor at VIU.
The results of Roots to Thrive’s programs are currently being reviewed for publication. After one year of serving nearly 200 patients, participants are self-reporting significant positive results for depression, PTSD, anxiety and life/work functionality. Roots to Thrive currently has over 800 people on its waiting list for its 12-week, ketamine-assisted group therapy program.
Says Chelle Sheehan, a participant in Roots to Thrive’s first-in-Canada psilocybin-assisted group therapy program for people facing life-threatening illness:
“The effect this experience has had on me has been so dramatic I barely know how to express it. And the results are constantly increasing. To be able to participate at no cost was a miracle for me. The only reason my story is so successful, I think, isn’t so much about the session with psilocybin as much as it’s the format of the entire eight weeks, and the support afterward: the care, the love, the support, how the team got to know us, with everyone identifying with and listening to one another.”