Havn Life Sciences Inc. (“Havn Life”) is extending its appreciation and recognition of veterans this Remembrance Day and their service to our country. We wish to acknowledge veterans’ experience, both during their service and after.
Sadly, many veterans don’t receive the help they need after returning home from deployment, particularly when it comes to mental health.
According to a 2018 study that examined recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of injured service members and veterans, two-thirds of Canadian military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) do not respond completely to the best available evidence-based therapies. Further, a “Life After Service” study published in 2016 found suicide risk is higher in Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans than the Canadian general population.
Havn Life Board Member Tim Laidler is himself a veteran and is leading the charge on the company’s work to find alternative options in the emerging psychedelic space that can support veterans’ mental health.
Initially a part-time reservist, Laidler was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. He entered a veterans transition program after his service and it opened his eyes to the mental obstacles vets face once they return home.
Laidler has since gotten his Masters in Counselling and Psychology and has worked with hundreds of veterans dealing with trauma.
“The hardest part for me coming back from Afghanistan, one of the biggest struggles was trying to fit into society again,” said Laidler. “I was back in school at UBC in a classroom of 300 other students. A month earlier I was driving through Kandahar on convoys and being exposed to the turmoils of life in Afghanistan for a lot of people. We had the risk of suicide bombers and roadside bombs that were a daily threat for us driving on the convoys. You go from that high level of intensity and stress – it comes with a great amount of meaning and purpose though, because we’re doing a mission we all believe in – back to trying to make sense and make meaning in life as a civilian again.”
Laidler said he began to lose interest in life and school, and his mind wandered back to some of those roadside bombs that he saw that killed and injured civilians.
“You start thinking about those moments over and over and over again in your mind until you realize you’ve spent a couple of hours in a day and you’re exhausted at the end of it and you don’t have all your best energy for family and friends because you’ve just been ruminating on something that happened a year before,” he said. “So for me it started small that way and looking back on almost a year and a half after my tour, I don’t have many memories from that time because I was so caught up in my own thoughts reliving things that it was a bit of a loss.”
Laidler is hopeful that psilocybin – paired with therapy – can help other veterans with their adjustment once their service concludes and help them deal with the traumas of war.
“So many veterans will not go see a counsellor. I’ve worked in this space for 10-plus years. They just say I’m not interested. They say, ‘I don’t want the label of PTSD, I don’t want to talk to a psychologist.’ So the hope is with something like psilocybin, if it becomes more accepted and more professionals use it, I do see that as something that veterans will say, ‘Well, that’s a bit different. I’ll go seek help and meet with someone who is an expert in this and try something new,’ which is so needed in our community. We need new innovations like this.”
Havn Life shares Laidler’s hope for better outcomes and solutions to help transition veterans back to daily life after their service.
Havn Life Sciences is a part of a global community taking an active part in supporting research for psychedelic therapies in treating mental health disorders.