Every now and then we get to hear many incidents, tales and stories by pet owners explaining how their pets make them feel special! It’s one thing to read that a pet dog waving his tail on seeing its master lends happiness and brings immense pleasure to the owner. Although, it’s also true that keeping pet is a full time job and can be so hectic. Giving them food timely, exercising them at regular interval, many walks a day and full attention throughout are part of the caretaker story. But, know researchers have brought to front advantages a parent/guardian gets out of this pet-love-affair, where pet creature with limited speech brings back to their owner apart from many more than the identified benefits of pet ownership.
Now it’s known as scientific fact that the pet bring huge therapeutic healing effect on patients suffering from mental health disorders. This constant support becomes even more inevitable for people suffering from mental health disorder fighting not only the crisis, loneliness and stigma associated with these conditions but also the other grave symptoms like hallucinations or even suicidal thoughts. Time out with pets or just a bear hug gives huge comfort and an immense sense of support when the patient is reluctant to face the world.
As per the lead author, Dr Helen Brooks from The University of Manchester, “The people we spoke to through the course of this study felt their pet played a range of positive roles such as helping them to manage stigma associated with their mental health by providing acceptance without judgement. “Pets were also considered particularly useful during times of crisis. In this way, pets provided a unique form of validation through unconditional support, which they were often not receiving from other family or social relationships. Despite the identified benefits of pet ownership, pets were neither considered nor incorporated into the individual care plans for any of the people in our study.”
Dr Brooks adds, “These insights provide the mental health community with possible areas to target intervention and potential ways in which to better involve people in their own mental health service provision through open discussion of what works best for them.”
The researchers interviewed 54 participants, aged 18 and above, who were under the care of community-based mental health services and had been diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Participants were asked to rate the importance of members of their personal network including friends, family, health professionals, pets, hobbies, places, activities and objects, by placing them in a diagram of three concentric circles. Anything placed in the central circle was considered most important.
To learn more about the study and expressions that the participants read the whole research paper Ontological security and connectivity provided by pets: a study in the self-management of the everyday lives of people diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition’, published in the journal BMC Psychiatry. DOI 10.1186/s12888-016-1111-3.