· New initiative will enable callers seeking support processing past psychedelic experiences to connect with trained volunteers from their own communities
· Volunteers will have opportunities for free access to psychedelic education and training through Naropa University, MAPS PBC, Fluence, Psychedelic.Support, Oregon Health Sciences University, and more
Fireside Project, a leading provider of psychedelic peer support, announced today the launch of its new Equity Initiative, which will radically expand the organization’s capacity to provide culturally responsive service for people seeking help processing past psychedelic experiences.
Starting February 15, Fireside Project is accepting applications for 40 new peer support volunteers from BIPOC, transgender, and military veteran communities, who will begin serving on the organization’s Psychedelic Peer Support Line—accessible via phone or text—in June. The program will ensure that support line users who align with or come from these communities can be connected with a volunteer who is more likely to relate to their background, needs, and struggles.
“Fireside Project is committed to creating pathways and alliances that create an equitable and liberated psychedelic field,” says Fireside Project co-founder Hanifa Nayo Washington. “Across the health care sector, innumerable studies have been done about the importance of workforce diversity. Most importantly, representation offers those who come from historically marginalized communities safety in self-expression and in exploring vulnerability. For those of us in the mental health sector, the ultimate impact of this representation is saved lives.”
Fireside Project’s Equity Initiative will also resource members of its Affinity Cohort to pursue careers in psychedelics as Fireside Fellows. After a year of service, participants will be eligible to apply for grants from Fireside’s Equity Fund. These grants can be used to cover the costs of tuition for psychedelic education and training, as well as other costs such as licensure fees, application fees, and costs associated with starting and running a business in the psychedelic field. Fireside Project is partnering with academic institutions, including Naropa University.
Naropa has committed two full scholarships to its psychedelic-assisted therapies certificate program for Fireside volunteers from underrepresented communities. The cost of the program is $10,000 per year. The university has also announced plans to update its curriculum to include training materials from Fireside Project on anti-racism practices, peer support, and the impacts of the war on drugs on marginalized communities.
“We are delighted to offer financial support to three Fireside Project volunteers for our inaugural cohort of the psychedelic-assisted therapies certificate program,” says Sara Lewis, Ph.D., Faculty Co-Director, Naropa University Center for Psychedelic Studies. “These trainees bring with them a richness and depth of experience that will enhance the vibrancy of this diverse cohort. We deeply celebrate and honor Fireside Project, not only for how they are enriching the psychedelic space in their dedicated work on harm reduction, safety, and peer-support, but also for their leadership in anti-oppression work, equity, and justice."
Fluence, a leading training program in psychedelic therapy and psychedelic therapy integration, will offer three free registrations to Fireside Fellows to its Psychedelic Integration: Premise and Promise online workshop. Psychedelic education provider Psychedelic.Support will donate five course registrations to Fireside Fellows. Plus, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MAPS PBC) is donating five full $5,000 tuition scholarships to its MDMA Therapy Training Program, as well as an internship for an Affinity Cohort volunteer.
“The Training Team at MAPS PBC is excited about our collaboration with Fireside Project and the importance of providing training and career opportunities for people from communities underrepresented in the psychedelic field,” says Wes Hale, Senior Training Program Manager for MAPS PBC. “This collaboration will contribute towards one of the main goals of the MAPS Health Equity Program: to develop a network of therapy providers who are reflective of the diverse demographics of people who experience trauma.”
As psychedelic therapies continue to move toward greater acceptance across the United States, there are mounting concerns over a documented lack of diversity in the fields of psychedelic therapy, research, peer support, and harm reduction. Experts fear these issues could perpetuate a phenomenon known as the inverse care law, meaning that people from marginalized communities who could benefit most from services end up having the least access to them.
Fireside Project has launched this first-of-its-kind equity initiative in an effort to proactively confront these issues of equity, diversity, and access in psychedelics. Dr. Monnica Williams of University of Ottawa and Dr. Chris Stauffer of Oregon Health & Science University — who works in both the veteran and the transgender communities — will lead Fireside’s Equity & Liberation Research Committee, overseeing the research conducted under the equity initiative. Dr. Williams’ lab as well as Dr. Stauffer’s lab will offer internships to Fireside Project Affinity Cohort volunteers.
“My lab emphasizes the importance of marginalized communities being represented in psychedelic research, not just as research subjects, but in the planning, administration, and publication of our work,” says Dr. Stauffer. “We are delighted to be collaborating with Fireside Project on their Equity Initiative.”
Prospective candidates interested in joining Fireside Project’s Affinity Cohort are encouraged to apply on Fireside Project's website when applications open on February 15.
About Fireside Project
Fireside Project is a non-profit organization that operates the Psychedelic Peer Support Line, providing free, confidential support by mobile app, phone, and text message to people who are in the midst of psychedelic experiences or processing past psychedelic experiences, whether those experiences occurred yesterday or 25 years ago. Fireside Project has received national media attention in such publications as Rolling Stone, Forbes, Esquire, Mashable, and more. Fireside Project can be reached by phone and text at 6-2FIRESIDE (623-473-7433) and through its app, which is now available on iPhone and Android.