Sherry Rais, M.Sc., CEO and co-founder of Enthea, a licensed, third-party administrator of health insurance benefits with a mission to provide safe and affordable access to psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies, starting with ketamine therapy, is one of the 12 up-and-coming leaders in healthcare included in the annual Managed Healthcare Executive feature.
We are thrilled to present this year’s list of 12 emerging leaders in healthcare. Managed Healthcare Executive editors picked the emerging leaders from a list of almost 40 nominees. They come from the full gamut of U.S. healthcare, including companies harnessing the ever-increasing amount of healthcare data, community health worker organizations addressing social determinants of health, and enterprises devoted to improving Medicaid program access and quality. These leaders are tackling the challenges of the 21st century with creativity, dedication and insight. They give us confidence in the future of healthcare.
Growing up in Toronto in a community that prioritized service and helping others, I believe in living and working in alignment with purpose, and I'm currently focused on expanding access to psychedelic-assisted therapy to alleviate human suffering. Before this, I consulted for more than 10 years with the United Nations and World Bank, implementing cash transfer programs at the national level in more than 35 countries.
I hold a master’s degree in public policy and administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and international development from McGill University. In addition to being Enthea’s CEO, I am the executive director of the Boston Psychedelic Research Group and the grants manager for California Institute for Integral Studies.
Career turning point: Perhaps the most important moment in my career was when I learned about the potential of psychedelic therapy. At this point, I had spent my entire career abroad. In some of the world’s poorest countries I had seen firsthand that most people with a mental illness were not being treated. I had also seen how in areas recovering from the aftermath of war and conflict, the mental health situation is more dire.
When I saw anywhere from 60% to 80% of participants in psychedelic clinical trials were coming out with significant outcomes, lasting change and getting to the root of their problem without having to take a pill every day, I was blown away.
Biggest challenge of the job: My biggest day-to-day challenge is striking a balance between my passion to help millions of people gain access to psychedelic-assisted therapy and the reality of the time and effort it will take to achieve this goal.
The potential of psychedelic therapy to revolutionize mental healthcare is truly exciting. Knowing that these groundbreaking therapies have the potential to alleviate pain for many people suffering fuels my determination to make them widely available. However, I am also well aware that achieving widespread access to psychedelic therapy requires navigating complex regulatory landscapes and overcoming various business challenges.
Being patient throughout this journey is not easy. However, I firmly believe that a measured and responsible approach is essential to establish the credibility of our company and the field as a whole.
Long-lasting COVID-19 effect: COVID-19 has had a profound and lasting impact on mental health in the United States and, consequently, on Enthea. The pandemic and its associated challenges have resulted in a surge in mental health issues, affecting individuals of all ages across the country.
In this context, services such as ketamine therapy offer a glimmer of hope for individuals struggling with various mental health conditions.
The pandemic has also led to a greater acceptance and implementation of telehealth services and, as such, we are leveraging telehealth solutions to ensure that individuals can access ketamine therapy in a safe and convenient manner.
What I would change about U.S. healthcare: Being Canadian, my obvious answer would be the implementation of a universal healthcare system. By adopting a universal healthcare system, I think the U.S. could achieve several significant benefits, including equitable access, cost savings, greater emphasis on preventative care and an improvement in health outcomes, especially for low-income people and people with chronic health conditions.
Book everyone in healthcare should read: “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich is not explicitly about healthcare, but it does a great job of illustrating the ways in which inequality affects people’s access to healthcare. It is a powerful book that shows the human cost of inequality and how it can lead to poor health outcome, and it provides a valuable perspective on the challenges that low-wage workers face.
Guilty pleasure: For the rest of my life, I could survive on milk chocolate, toasted white bread and a cup of piping hot black tea with a splash of milk.