Dogs Are the Best Therapy

As a college sophomore, I know what I’m talking about when I say mental health is a serious issue on campus. More of my friends are struggling with anxiety and depression than ever before. The image below illustrates just how widespread the problem is using a few facts and figures.

Mental health is a more serious issue than ever on college campuses. Infographic: Psychology Today

 

With the increased media attention and parental concern, The New York Times called attention to this issue and called for action. So, what’s one solution? I think it’s therapy dogs.

Look at how happy these students look! When a person plays with a dog, their brain releases serotonin (the happy hormone) and oxytocin (the cuddle hormone). More importantly, the human-dog interaction decreases cortisol (the stress hormone), which then does a lot of great things like lowering blood pressure and making you more relaxed. My point is that dogs are wonderful for college students. Photo: Virginia Commonwealth University News

Why therapy dogs?

Unlike service dogs, that are trained to provide personal assistance for a disabled owner, emotional support dogs and therapy dogs are pets that have been trained to provide comfort and a improvement to the mental health of others. Therapy dogs have been proven to positively affect a student physically, emotionally, and mentally. This article goes as far as to say that the therapy dog alleviates stress.

Therapy dogs and college students

This infographic illustrates the popularity and success of therapy dogs on a college student’s whole life. Therapy dogs are truly the answer to mental health problems on college campuses. Infographic: Courtney Mettler

As the infographic illustrates, therapy dogs have a positive effect on all aspects of a college student’s life. When their emotional and mental health is improved, their physical health is improved. And all three are areas of improvements then help the student’s academic performance. When a student isn’t depressed, they’re more motivated to learn. When a student isn’t abusing drugs as a way to cope with overwhelming stress, they’re grades improve. These benefits are why hundreds of therapy dogs are being brought to college campuses. So, if your school doesn’t have a pet therapy program on campus, I highly recommend going to your health center and starting one. The entire school will benefit from having more dogs on campus.

These girls at Miami University are having a great time petting a therapy dog on campus. They have the right idea because when I’m studying for a test, the best stress reliever is cuddling a dog. Photo: The Miami Herald

For more information (and cute picture of dogs), you should read this CNN article: “Therapy dogs: ‘Perfect medicine’ to help students survive finals.” 

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