The University of Winnipeg



2023 Laird Lecture to explore psychedelic medicine, mental health, and social justice

Dr. Monnica Williams graphic

Dr. Monnica Williams will deliver the 2023 Laird Lecture, entitled “Psychedelic Medicine and Racial Justice: Past, Present, and Future,” on October 26.

Psychedelics have been studied for the treatment of numerous mental health conditions, as an avenue for personal growth, and as a way to enhance well-being. However, studies have been slow to include people of colour, leaving important questions unaddressed for these populations.

UWinnipeg’s 2023 Laird Lecture will shed light on this disparity. Clinical psychologist Dr. Monnica Williams will present Psychedelic Medicine and Racial Justice: Past, Present, and Future on Thursday, October 26 at 12 p.m. in Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall.

Dr. Williams’ research reflects a resurgence of academic and community interest in psychedelics today.

Dr. Kevin Walby

Dr. Williams, a Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Disparities at the University of Ottawa, works at the intersection of psychedelics, consciousness studies, and social and racial justice.

“Psychedelics have been used for thousands of years around the world for mental health, spiritual growth, insight, and well-being,” Dr. Williams said. “Due to the recent media attention, we can expect to see increasing numbers of people trying these substances looking for cures to their mental health problems or just out of curiosity.”

Dr. Williams will discuss the impact of first-wave drug research abuses, social policies, and stereotypes on communities of colour, and how psychedelic therapies may help or hinder healing for racialized individuals. She will also discuss mental health in communities of colour.

“Dr. Williams’ research reflects a resurgence of academic and community interest in psychedelics today, and addresses topics of study spanning multiple departments and disciplines here at UWinnipeg,” said Dr. Kevin Walby, Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and organizer of the Laird Lecture. “I hope people will be interested in this work on psychedelics, healing, and health. I am excited to hear about her research.”

About Dr. Monnica Williams

Dr. Monnica Williams is a board-certified Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology. She is also the Clinical Director of the Behavioral Wellness Clinic in Connecticut, where she provides supervision and training to clinicians for empirically-supported treatments.

Dr. Williams’ research focuses on the mental health of communities of colour, culture, and psychopathology; she has published over 200 scientific articles on these topics. In the area of psychedelics, she served as a Principal Investigator in a multi-site study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for people of colour living with post-traumatic stress disorder. She serves on the editorial board of several journals, including the Journal of Psychedelic Studies. She also served as Chair of the Board of Chacruna Institute for a year and is on their Racial Equity and Access Committee.

Her work has been featured in numerous major U.S. and Canadian media outlets, including NPR, CTV, CBC, HuffPost, and the New York Times.

UWinnipeg’s annual Laird Lecture addresses the intersection of science and social studies in Canada. 

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