There’s more and more research evidence that points out the psychological benefits of pets for people with mental health problems. For example, a study about people living with PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression, revealed that pets offer a deep sense of “ontological security” — which means, stability, continuity, and meaning in a person’s life.
There’s also a study that described how CDC encouraged parents to get their children a pet. They claim that having a dog helps with anxiety issues with kids as well as with the lowering of BMI. Now, when Dr. Helen Louise Brooks, from the University of Liverpool, did thorough research of the mentioned studies, she discovered that pets benefit people with serious mental health issues.
Psychological Benefits of Pets as a Therapy
Dr. Brooks discovered that having dogs, cats, hamsters, or even goldfish as a therapy for a mental health issue brings huge benefits. Animals help people, especially when dealing with mental health problems, with a distraction from the symptoms and with managing emotions.
How do Pets Help Us Mentally?
Pets provide unconditional support and love and help with easing distress, worry, and loneliness. They give us acceptance without judgment and give unconditional support, which many people with mental health issues don’t get from their family or friends. Furthermore, some study participants claim that pets make them go outside and live a more social and physically active life. This especially goes for dogs as they encourage social interaction as well as improve community ties.
In addition, pets help people with keeping a strong sense of existential meaning, self-worth, and identity. One study participant said “When depressed, I become suicidal. One thing that stopped me from killing myself was wondering what the rabbits are doing at the moment. And the next thought was – I can’t kill myself, what will the rabbits do if they are alone, who will take care of them?”
Another participant said that when (in his case a dog) the pet comes to his bed ad night, you can see that it’s a mutual need kind of deal as it needs you as much as you need him.
Idea – Pets included in patient care plans?
In the end, you have to agree with us that pets have a valuable contribution to our mental health. So, the question is – Why aren’t pets still incorporated into individual care plans of patients? This would also offer an opportunity to involve patients in their own mental health service by discussing what works best for them. Think about what you just read and let us know in the comments.