Why Kevin O’Leary partnered with MindMed; humanity faces growing mental health crisis
(Kitco News) - The recession and lockdowns around the world have created a huge spike in reported mental health conditions. In the U.S., as a result of unemployment and the quarantines, 40% of adults reported mental health and substance use in June. 11% seriously considered suicide, up from only 4% in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC reported that in June, 31% of U.S. adults showed symptoms of anxiety and depression, 13% started or increased substance use, and 26% reported trauma/stressor-related disorder symptoms.
“Mental health [issues] and addictions skyrocket when people are out of a job. It’s a natural thing to wake up and not have something to do that you’re going to turn to thinking about killing yourself or consuming a very addicting substance,” said JR Rahn, founder and co-CEO of MindMed.
Companies like MindMed are creating drugs to help people battle mental health issues.
“Mental health and addiction are going to be around for the next 10 to 20 years, and these are far larger problems and far larger markets that are going to evolve. Unfortunately, I believe that North America’s next great growth story is mental illness and addiction,” Rahn said.
MindMed is currently listed on the Neo exchange under ticker MMED.NE. Its stock has risen more than 80% in 2020. The company is currently seeking a listing on the NASDAQ.
“Mental health costs the American economy $2.5 trillion a year, the opioid crisis $500 billion a year. These aren’t just problems at home, they’re going to start affecting the economy as well,” Rahn said.
Even as society develops a habit around working from home, mental health issues are likely to persist, Rahn said, adding that “Zoom fatigue” is already developing.
“We’re going to need solutions to mental health and addiction, and the current solutions aren’t working. SSRIs, not working. Anxiety medications like Xanax, those are just masking the problem,” he said.
Long-term, the rise of automation will displace even more workers from the labor force, persisting the issue further.
“It’s either going to an apocalypse or a renaissance. For the way we’re looking at it right now, it’s looking like an apocalypse. I think people when they wake up in the morning and they don’t have something to do, that’s not good, and you’re going to see rates of addictions skyrocket even further, and you’re going to see more mental health incidents,” he said. “We don’t have the infrastructure or the medicines to really help these people.”
Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary became involved with MindMed but only once he changed his mind after initially rejecting Rahn’s pitch.
“So when I first presented the concept of using LSD-assisted therapy and psychedelics to Kevin, he basically got up after about 5 minutes into our conversation in Toronto and said ‘my name is not Timothy O’Leary, it’s Kevin O’Leary, and I’m not investing into this thing.’ He went away for two days and I got a call back and he said ‘look, I’m interested, if this could actually solve the opioid crisis, if this could actually solve 40 million Americans with anxiety’,” Rahn said.
For an investor, a company like MindMed may be a new asset class, being among the first psychedelic drug companies to be listed on a public exchange.
“What we are doing is going to create large value to society, and I think that anything that creates a large value to society will ultimately have a good outcome for our investors,” he said.