Pets Can Be Valuable For People With Mental Health Problems, Says Study

Posted: Dec 11 2016, 6:33am CST | by , Updated: Dec 11 2016, 6:37am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Pets can be Valuable for People with Mental Health Problems, Says Study
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Cats, dogs and birds can help people deal with serious mental illnesses

Having a pet can help improve mental health problems in many people.

There is significant evidence that pets like cats, dogs and birds can make you feel better and are good for general wellbeing. But a new research shows that owning a pet can also play an important role in managing long-term mental illnesses. 

When people interact with their pets, they receive calm and therapeutic benefits from them and this can help people deal with their persistent mental health disorders.

For the study, British researchers involved more than 50 adults who were getting treatment for their long term mental conditions and asked them to rate the importance of people and different things in their social network by placing them in a diagram of three circles: central (most important), middle (secondary important) and outer (lesser import circle).

Sixty percent placed their pets in the central and most important circle – above family, friends and hobbies while twenty percent placed pets in the second important circle. 

“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 judgment,” said lead author, Dr Helen Brooks from University of Manchester.

“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.”

Most of the participants said that their pets help distracting them from the symptoms and upsetting experiences and forced them to still be involved with the real world. Researchers also found that pets were particularly important to those people who have limited interactions with people or have difficult relationships with them. 

Researchers suggest that pets should be considered a main source of support in the management of long-term mental health problems and should be involved more in the patient’s life to achieve greater health benefits.

Dr. Brooks says. “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.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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