Vanessa didn't expect to spend the final years of her 30 year marriage on constant suicide watch.
Her husband, Franco, suffered treatment resistant depression for three years before he took his own life, leaving behind his wife and their beloved daughter.
"You know, when someone is really wanting to die, you want to ease their suffering. But as a mother, knowing he had a young child, I couldn't do that to her. I couldn't let her lose her father. So I was in an impossible situation," Vanessa said.
"I just thought, wow, this psychedelic-assisted therapy could possibly do something for him. And I couldn't get access to that."
Medicinal psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) and MDMA (also known as ecstacy) assisted therapies are used in some countries to treat a range of mental illnesses. The use of psychedelic drugs in therapy is illegal in Australia.
The US, Canada, Switzerland and Israel are world leaders in allowing access to these treatments through compassionate access schemes. In Australia there is currently no legal pathway to access psychedelic treatments.
Vanessa has penned an emotional letter to the Prime Minister, her local representative, that tells the story of her husband's suicide and requests his support in creating a new treatment pathway for people with treatment resistant depression. She is seeking limited access to psychedelic-assisted therapy.
"In what world is it fair to deny treatment-resistant Australians access to the potentially life-saving medicines under the guise of keeping them safe?," she wrote in her letter.
Executive director of Mind Medicine Australia Tania De Jong has been lobbying the Therapeutic Goods Administration to reclassify these drugs to enable their therapeutic use.
"Psilocybin has been tested for a whole range of other conditions, including addictions, eating disorders and anorexia, dementia... it's quite exciting," Ms De Jong said.
"We really have to ask ourselves in a country like Australia, which has such a high and increasing incidence of mental illness, depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, addictions, how it can be ethical to withhold these treatments from people who are suffering, like Franco, and have tried every other kind of treatment."
The Therapeutic Goods Administration recently made the decision to not support the limited rescheduling of MDMA and psilocybin, citing insufficient evidence of the therapeutic value of either drug and potential risks of psychosis, tachycardia and increased blood pressure.
Senior lecturer of addiction at Edith Cowan University Dr Stephen Bright said it's still too early to roll out psychedelic-assisted therapies.
"We don't know why it works with some people, and it doesn't work with others," he said.
This isn't a silver bullet, it doesn't work for everybody. And we're seeing some people respond very well to it, and some people don't respond to it at all- Dr Stephen Bright
Psychedelic-assisted therapies involve consuming the drugs in conjunction with psychotherapy sessions. Dr Bright stressed that the psychotherapy element of the process is crucial, and that misunderstandings about the power of these drugs should be addressed.
"If it were just the drugs themselves, people would be going into spontaneous remission when they go to a party or a festival, take some psilocybin mushrooms, and spontaneously recover," Dr Bright said.
"So it's more than just the drug itself, it's the drug in the context of the psychotherapy that provides a container for the person, somewhere for them to be safe, both physically and psychologically for that experience to unfold."
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According to Beyond Blue, men make up an average seven out of every nine suicides every single day in Australia. The number of men who die by suicide in Australia every year is nearly double the national road toll.
Vanessa believes these drugs may have saved her husbands life.
"I'd get angry with the system, because I thought, why can't I get access to something that could possibly help him?" Vanessa said.
Franco was administered 96 rounds of electric convulsive therapy and prescribed 19 different antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs.
Dr Bright said a significant element of these new therapies is that people can have challenging psychological experiences throughout the treatment.
"I think it's important that the general public realise that," he said.
"If somebody has a loved one with the treatment resistant depression, then they might go out and acquire some psilocybin mushrooms in an attempt to try to to help that person.
"But the psilocybin experience itself is very, very challenging, and so not having appropriate people around to support that person could actually do them damage rather than good."
Mind Medicine's Ms De Jong has spoken publicly about her and her partner's life changing encounter with psychedelic drugs, which she has described as "one of the most meaningful experiences of both our lives".
An ABC Four Corners investigation earlier this year raised allegations about the industry. Mind Medicine Australia strongly refuted those allegations.
While experts say the research into psychedelic-assisted therapies doesn't yet support widespread access, advocates worry that the existing mental health support infrastructure is failing thousands of Australians and radical intervention is desperately needed.
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