Welcome to Startup of the Week. A column highlighting BC’s most innovative and exciting tech startups. Today, we’re featuring Vancouver’s Numinus.
Over 970 million people worldwide suffer from a mental disorder. On top of that, many experts have proposed that society’s drug-based approach to treating these disorders is fundamentally flawed.
There is an imminent need for change in this system, a change that Numinus wants to bring.
This week, Stacey Wallin, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Numinus spoke to us about Numinus’s vision for the future of mental health treatment, why this area is so important to her and the team and how she likes to support local businesses.
Q: Pretend I’m your Grandma, explain what your company does.
A: We research, develop and deliver safe, evidence-based psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies to help people heal and be well. Today’s conventional treatments for mental health disorders are often ineffective and lead to significant adverse side effects. Meanwhile, clinical trials for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy have shown safety and efficacy, with fewer and less severe side effects.
We want to help ensure that people suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and trauma get the help they need. And we believe that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, delivered by a professional therapist through clinics such as the ones we operate in Vancouver and Montreal, may provide life changing benefits which many patients are looking for.
Q: What was the impetus to start Numinus?
A: Through my familiarity with the mental health sector in Canada, I saw the limits to the existing treatment options that were available for individuals. This, coupled with my own personal and family journey, showed me there are other treatment methods that can be beneficial and transformative when administered in a safe, secure way. This led me to working with Payton Nyquvest, Numinus’s other Co-Founder, to start an organization that works to address a major treatment gap for a range of mental health illnesses and substance use disorders.
Q: What don’t people know about your company that they should?
A: A number of critical facts:
- Numinus has paved the way for psychedelic-assisted therapy on a national and global scale through many industry firsts. We are currently leading two first-of-their-kind compassionate access trials in Canada, in partnership with respected organizations in the space, including global psychedelic pioneer MAPS. One trial is using MDMA to treat PTSD while the other is investigating psilocybin for the treatment of substance use disorders.
- We have a team of licensed MDs, therapists and PhDs who all have specialized training to integrate psychedelics into clinical care, under strict protocols, expert supervision and in line with Health Canada standards.
- Payton and I, and others within our company, have a deep personal connection to psychedelics. We have actively used these tools to undertake journeys in our own lives and have experienced the benefits psychedelics can provide.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Ensuring that effective and safe treatment options are available to all individuals who need them, regardless of cost and location. It’s critical that we get these treatments in the hands of the people who can benefit from them, not just those who can afford them. We also need to ensure that our methods are culturally safe and trauma-informed and help overcome systemic barriers to treatment. We are working with cultural and other community leaders to make sure we understand the unique needs of communities and translate them to our policies and procedures in an ethical and informed way.
Q: Congratulations on being the first Canadian public company to legally harvest psilocybin mushrooms. How has this created unique opportunities for you?
A: This milestone has been a major accomplishment for Numinus. Currently, there is a need for high-quality supply for psychedelics for clinical trials and other uses. This milestone has allowed us to progress our research and development of standardized cultivation, extraction and testing methods, as well as explore product formulations to develop safe, evidence-based psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
Q: What advice would you give to others in the startup community?
A: As an organization that has been able to move beyond the initial startup stage into revenue and growth, my advice would be to start a business based on something that is close to your heart and inspires you to work tirelessly to bring it to life. I have been fortunate to have had many roles that have been meaningful and enjoyable, but being an entrepreneur is something more. It’s a calling, not a job. Because our business means so much to me, I am truly committed to making it work and making a difference.
Q: What books have you been reading lately?
A: There are my top book recommendations right now:
- Set Boundaries, Find Peace – Nedra Glover Tawwab
- Connect – David Bradford and Carole Robin
- How To Do The Work – Dr Nicole Lepera
- The Body Keeps Score – Bessel Van Der Kolk
We are currently expanding across Canada and internationally and are always looking for highly ethical healthcare professionals. If you’re a therapist with an orientation around trans-personal psychology or somatic practices and are interested in working with an organization that’s at the forefront of the mental health evolution in Canada, we would love to connect.
Want to be featured as a Startup of the Week? If you are a BC-based tech startup that we should know about, or would like to suggest one, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.