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Jess: on utopia, Morocco and her cat, Mittens

This month we hear from Jess, one of our therapist training coordinators who joined our COMPASS team at the start of 2019.
  • I am part of the COMPASS team helping to… ensure that therapists across all of our European trial sites receive the training and support they need in order to provide the highest standard of care for people taking part in our trial.
  • I work in mental health care because… everyone has been affected one way or another, be it through personal experience or the experiences of people close to them. Existing treatments do not work for everyone, and I believe that everyone has the right to mental wellbeing. Working towards making that equality a reality is a tremendously meaningful – and exciting! – journey.
  • The part of my job I most enjoy is… building relationships with our wonderful, compassionate and diverse team of therapists.
  • When I was a child I always wanted to… know what it was like to be an animal – especially my pet cat Mittens, or a wolf! I still hold onto this desire as an adult, but I would now define it as a sense of permanent curiosity about how others experience the world.
  • The best place I’ve ever visited is… Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains in Morocco, an otherworldly place where all the buildings are entirely blue! Waking up every day in a city the colour of the sky was a truly liberating and beautiful experience.
  • My dream one day is to… finish writing a symphony. I play and compose music for piano, but it is my ambition to complete something on a larger scale one day – and perhaps even see it performed by an orchestra!
  • The book everyone should read is…. Island by Aldous Huxley, which depicts a Utopian vision of a blissful, flourishing society under threat. I find the notion of utopias fascinating and important. Whilst it is easy to name the problems that exist in the world, it is more difficult – and in my opinion, infinitely more useful – to imagine how a better world might look.
  • The song everyone should listen to is… Emily by Joanna Newsom. The cyclical, meandering structure and the pure poetry of the lyrics leave me with a sense of wonder whenever I hear it.

Shaun: on football dreams, the human brain, and Mount Olympus

This month we hear from Shaun, one of our research scientists who brings cutting-edge experience from research institutes in the US and Italy to our team.

I am part of the COMPASS team helping to…  Design our pre-clinical studies with the aim of better understanding the potential for psilocybin therapy in helping people with mental health conditions.

I work in mental health care because… We’re so far from where we need to be, with so many people in desperate need. I’ve always been fascinated by how the human brain works, but what’s most motivating is trying to make a difference in an area where innovation has been lacking for so long.

The part of my job I most enjoy is… Working with a team that shares my values and is passionate about transforming mental health care.

When I was a child I always wanted to… Become a professional footballer. I’ve always enjoyed playing and watching football, but there is no football more action-packed than the 5-a-side games we play at COMPASS!

The best place I’ve ever visited is… Mount Olympus in Greece, on a clear summer evening. The view was incredible – the sea spread out in every direction in the distance and further up was the throne of Zeus. It’s the only time I’ve been starstruck by a fictional figure.

The book everyone should read is… My mind always goes blank when I’m asked to pick a favourite ‘something’. So I’m going to cheat a little bit here and say two: Animal Farm by George Orwell and Infinite Jest by David-Foster Wallace. Their approaches to story telling couldn’t be further apart, which is all the more enriching when it comes to expanding our horizons.

Hannah: on the Namib desert, mental health stigma, and connecting in the time of COVID-19

This month we hear from Hannah who is responsible for ensuring our clinical trial operations run smoothly and efficiently in North America.

I am a part of the COMPASS team helping to … manage our North American clinical trial operations, in particular our phase IIb trial looking at the safety and efficacy of psilocybin therapy in participants with treatment-resistant depression.

I work in mental health care because… our mental health is as important as our physical health, yet the mental health field does not get nearly as much support and visibility as other domains of health. I want to help break down existing stigmas, while providing evidence-based care to vulnerable populations.

The part of my job I most enjoy is… collaborating with our dedicated site staff at research institutions across North America. They are on the ground-level making change happen! It is inspiring to be partners with them.

When I was a child, I always wanted to… be a teacher. I I looked up to my educators so much I just wanted to be them. Or maybe I didn’t have a strong enough imagination ;)

An unusual fact about me is… I am born on the same day as my older sister, but three years later. When I was growing up, I thought all siblings had the same birthday.

What I am most grateful for is… I am writing this during the time of COVID-19, which is making me more grateful than ever for how we can use technology and social media to connect and inspire one another. I feel thankful we can remain united in spirit, despite being separated in physicality.

The best place I’ve ever visited is…Dune 45 in the Namib Desert – climbing Dune 45 and watching the sun rise over the Namib-Naukluft National Park was like nothing else!

The book everyone should read is… Tiny Beautiful Things. This is a collection of advice columns written through the vulnerable, self-aware lens of “Dear Sugar,” otherwise known as author Cheryl Strayed. Her ability to provide practical advice, while weaving in her own deeply personal and remarkable storyline, is unparalleled. This is a book I come back to time and time again to remind myself of the nuanced and empathetic depth of the human experience. She will make you laugh and cry all in one page!