Newswise — UCLA Health is set to host a unique symposium this week to explore the evolving research in psychedelic therapies and how combining it with reconnection to natural world could help to amplify their mental health benefits.

The all-day symposium on May 10 at the UCLA campus will bring together the expertise and insights of researchers from UCLA Health’s Psychedelic Studies Initiative and the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviors as well as filmmakers, psychiatrists, urban planners, indigenous health experts, writers and environmental leaders from throughout the world.

“Promising clinical trials of psychedelics such as psilocybin, ayahuasca and others for depression, substance use disorder and end of life anxiety have led to a surge of interest in, and research support for their clinical use,” said Dr. Helena Hansen, Jane and Terry Semel Institute interim director. “We are committed to equitable dissemination, bringing these therapies to those who are most in need. To do this, we need to rethink the way medicine is practiced, and to relocate where it is practiced.”

“Cultivating Connections: Ecological Medicine Meets Psychedelic Therapies” will include seminars, breakout sessions and film screenings on a variety of topics including the integration of psychedelic therapy with ecological medicine; nature prescriptions, designing ecological medicine laboratories; and social and health justice in human-environment interactions.

A full agenda can be found online at

Clinical research of psychedelic therapies has found promise for treating mental health disorders such as depression, substance use disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety as well as pain disorders. The results have led to increased interest and support for clinical use in medicine. The California Legislature is currently considering a bill that would allow for psychedelic-assisted therapy for persons 21 and over under the supervision of a licensed, trained facilitator. 

Ecological medicine is a relatively new field of research into the interconnections of the health of the environment, ecosystem and living organisms.

UCLA Health is proposing to integrate these two fields of study through the construction of a “Living Ecological Medicine Laboratory” on the enclosed rooftop deck of the Semel Institute at the UCLA Health campus. Envisioned as a green space with native plant gardens and a refuge for pollinators, the proposed outdoor lab would allow researchers to test the efficacy and safety of psychedelic-assisted therapies in greenspace exposures. Additionally, researchers and clinicians would have access to neuroimaging and research facilities within the same building.

How to Attend and Press Contacts

The May 10 symposium will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. PDT on May 10 and will be livestreamed via Zoom. Attendees and members of the press may register to attend at

In-person attendance is currently full, but a waiting list is available for those who wish to attend in person.

Dr. Helena Hansen and Dr. Charles Grob, founder and clinical director of the UCLA Psychedelic Studies Initiative, are available for interviews before and following the symposium to discuss the Living Ecological Medicine Laboratory and current research.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact UCLA Health media relations officer Will Houston at [email protected] or 310-948-2966.