Public Release: 8-Dec-2016
Pets offer valuable support for owners with mental health problems
Pets can help people manage their long-term mental health conditions, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry.
The consistent presence and close physical proximity of their pets was described in this study as providing an immediate source of calm and therapeutic benefit for the pets' owners. The researchers suggest that pets should be considered a main source of support in the management of long-term mental health problems.
Lead author, Dr Helen Brooks from University of Manchester said, "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."