New ESPN E60 Examines Use of Psychedelics in Mental Health Treatment of Athletes

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New ESPN E60 Examines Use of Psychedelics in Mental Health Treatment of Athletes

E60 With Full Access as Former Professional Athletes Participate in Retreat Involving Hallucinogenic “Magic Mushrooms”

Peace of Mind Debuts Saturday, April 22, at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN, Streaming After on ESPN+

In a story situated at the intersection of medicine, healing and sports, a new edition of ESPN E60 examines the use of psychedelic “magic mushrooms” in mental health treatment for athletes.

Peace of Mind debuts Saturday, April 22, at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN, available immediately after the initial airing for on-demand streaming on ESPN+,

If one wants to understand the potential of psychedelics in mental health treatment, it’s important to dispel some of the common misconceptions, including the preconceived notions about who could benefit from their use. Enter the athlete.

One of the biggest advocates for the potential of psychedelic compounds is retired NHL player Riley Cote. In four seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Cote scored only one goal, but he was involved in more than 50 fights. There was damage and pain, physical and mental. And now, Cote, who credits psychedelic therapy for helping to combat the mental health struggles he has been facing for years, wants to help other athletes who are facing similar battles.

ESPN’s E60 and KFF Health News were given unfettered access to follow Cote and a small group of retired professional athletes as they participated in an intensive retreat in Jamaica involving the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin, more commonly known as magic mushrooms. The athletes came hoping to address issues ranging from anxiety to depression to PTSD. By the end of the therapeutic retreat, each athlete left feeling hopeful, several for the first time in years.

Reporter Kevin Van Valkenburg and KFF Health News reporter Markian Hawryluk look into the history of psychedelics in the United States as well as the pros and cons of the drugs as medical treatments – and what impact they may have not just on athletes, but everyone. Hawryluk explored the science around psychedelics as it gains traction in the U.S.

In addition to Cote, who speaks openly about his difficulties and treatment, others interviewed in the program include:

Mike Lee – retired professional boxer

Steve Downie – former NHL player

Justin Renfrow – former NFL and CFL player

Dr. Gul Dofen, PhD – Johns Hopkins neuroscientist

Dr. Scott Aaronson – Chief Science Officer, Sheppard Pratt

Jessie Uehling, PhD – Oregon State University mycologist

Albert Garcia-Romeu, PhD – Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Research

Tyler MacLeod – co-founder and CXO, Wake Network

Dr. Jeff LaPratt – Psychologist & Psychedelic researcher, Sheppard Pratt

Dr. Daniel Weinberger – Director, Lieber Institute for Brain Development

Peace of Mind was produced and directed by Blake Foeman.

Other ESPN platforms also will contribute to the storytelling: a longform written piece by Hawryluk and
Van Valkenburg will be published on ESPN.com to accompany the E60 airing.

An excerpt from Peace of Mind will be included in the Friday, April 21 OTL on SC segment in the noon edition of SportsCenter and the story also will be explored in that day’s edition of the ESPN Daily Podcast.

After the initial airing, in addition to being available on ESPN+, the program will re-air multiple times on ESPN networks.

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Media contacts: [email protected] and [email protected]

Andy Hall

My main responsibility is PR/Communications for ESPN’s news platforms including the Enterprise/Investigative Unit, the E60 program and SportsCenter. In addition, I’m the PR contact for ESPN’s Formula 1 coverage, golf majors (the Masters and PGA Championship) and TGL golf. I’m based in Daytona Beach, Fla., and have been with ESPN since 2006.
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