Animals Can Positively Affect One’s Mental Health

Angelique Herrera , Courier Staff

Mental health. It’s a topic that is quite controversial to talk about, primarily because of the stigma that lies behind it. However, this is a topic that I believe should be talked about more openly. Especially, because of how the Coronavirus ignited a decline in thousands of people across the nation. I, myself have noticed a very big shift in my own mental health, especially once the weather started getting colder and the winter blues started. What has kept me going through what I consider my ‘dark days,’ has been my pet Beauty. Beauty is a dog, and she is also registered as my emotional support animal. Beauty has contributed to multiple days of emotional comfort without me even having to ask for it, which is why I think emotional support animals are so great for those facing certain mental health issues.

There have been numerous studies on how pets assist in reducing an individual’s anxiety. With some, they feel companionship, with a pet they don’t feel completely alone in the world, whereas others feel more relaxed around their pets, and petting their animals makes them feel more at ease. In some cases, individuals feel less depressed around animals, and if one were to have an animal around them permanently, this form of companionship could help relieve the stress that comes with mental illnesses.

The bonds that people are able to form with their pets are quite amazing because, despite the inability to fully communicate with pets, they still provide a form of companionship that is irreplaceable. I think that this stems from the fact that people don’t feel judged by their animals, but they can still vent to them if needed. Pets and emotional support animals also can provide a form of physical affection that people crave too. I can attest that there’s nothing better than cuddling with a pet after a long and exhausting day.

Like us, our animals also require a certain amount of attention and affection, which is why I think having an emotional support animal is so beneficial. Having a person and their animal of choice is a good combination for those who need some extra attention or those who crave more physical attention but get exhausted in social situations. It can also create a sense of motivation in those who may be lacking in motivation lately because caring for an animal is a responsibility at the end of the day. Being able to take care of a living creature, when you’re unable to take care of yourself at times, is a feeling of importance that one may need at times. Those who are suffering from a mental illness or are noticing a decline in their mental health, often need a break from all the stressors that are taking a toll on them. Having an animal can give them an option to do so, whether it’s going on a walk with them, playing with them and their toys or even watching a show with them in the room can reduce one’s anxiety and strike up some motivation to do other things in their daily lives. If you’re looking into an option that may benefit your mental health, I would recommend looking into getting a pet or an emotional support animal, but only if you’re aware of the responsibility that comes with having a pet and are willing to take care of the animal, because it does come with some challenges. Having an animal isn’t an easy task because you have to take care of it; it is a responsibility. However, the rewards are amazing.