Pets Help Manage Mental Illness

Students gathered in the school of social work today to display their research on human and animal bonds.

Research shows animals may be part of the solution for certain mental health issues. Professor Trisha Reeves, says animals play an important role in many people’s lives.

“Our animals are a part of our home, a part of our families. Animals for so many people are a source of hope, and recovery, wellness and strength,” says Reeves.

Household pets are not the only ones who can help with anxiety and depression. Kathryn Ashmore researched the benefits of Green Care Therapy, where patients can interact with farm animals in sanctuaries.

“It de-medicalizes some conditions, such as anxiety and depression, especially on the moderate to severe scale for people who are actually institutionalized for these type of things,” says Ashmore.

Animals can also help with developmental disorders. Oxytocin is a hormone in our bodies that regulates social interaction.

Student,  Maggie Lipham, researched the effects of combining artificial Oxytocin and pet therapy to help people with autism with social interactions.

“You know they say chicks dig dogs, well everybody kind of digs dogs. So if I had a dog standing here you are way more likely to come talk to me,” says Lipham.

Animal assisted intervention is the use of animals to aid in a therapeutic manner. Ashley Robinson said these animals have been proven to decrease anxiety within some patients, but aren’t suitable for everybody.

“Animal assisted interventions aren’t effective for everyone. Because obviously if you don’t like animals, animal assisted interventions aren’t going to be beneficial for you,” says Robinson.

-Raven Rice




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