It probably comes as no surprise that during the Covid-19 Pandemic, 23 million households acquired a pet. At a time when most people were overcome with worry and fear in isolation, it makes sense that millions turned to the comfort of an animal for support.
Believe it or not, service animals (especially dogs) date back to ancient roman times when blind men were guided by them to get from Point A to Point B. Seeing eye dogs showed up in the U.S. around the 1920s and were the only ones legally protected until 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA) was passed, allowing rights to any animal who was trained to help a person with a disability.
Nowadays, you see many people with service animals that can help with variety of situations from emotional support to turning on a light switch for their owner. In fact, there are incredible benefits service animals offer people who struggle with mental health issue like anxiety, depression, and PTSD as well.
5 Benefits of Service Animals
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Companionship – When you’re struggling with depression and loneliness, it can be easy to start thinking you want a romantic partnership with someone, but truth be told, unless you’re in a healthy state of mind, a relationship can also be damaging and foster a sense of unhealthy codependence and escapism. Adopting a service animal, however, can offer companionship and support without having the worry of communication issues, jealousy, an off-said comment, or differing love languages getting in the way of connection
- Feeling Protected – Many people who have anxiety or depression can slip into states of worry easily which can cause a sense of dis-ease, constantly thinking something bad is going to happen. Service animals can offer a feeling of security from both real and imagined outside threats. After all, dogs were the first alarm system that existed for many of us!
- Feeling Loved – Not only can service animals offer companionship, but also a sense of feeling loved for your authentic self. Animals are known to love people unconditionally (okay, other than the reason that you feed them). When you walk through the door after work, take them outside for their daily walk, or simply cuddle with them on the couch, animals can make you feel loved, even on your worst day.
- Build Confidence – It’s common for people who struggle with mental health issues to question and doubt what they’re capable of but being able to keep another living being (in this case an animal) alive and joyful can be a huge confidence booster. Being a pet parent is no easy task, but because animals are so loving, it is often easy to overlook the hardships of early morning walks or emptying the litter box. And let’s face it, if you can walk a dog on freezing winter mornings or empty a stinky litter box, is there anything you can’t do?
- Foster Motivation – Service animals can also help their owners be more motivated in their daily lives. Because a service dog needs to be walked at least twice a day, it forces a person who may otherwise be unmotivated to leave the house get outside. A body in motion stays in motion, as they say, so the motivation can trickle down from there into other areas! And by now, there is a good chance you’ve seen those stickers that say: “Be the person your pet thinks you are.” What could be more motivating than that?
Whether or not a service animal helps with a physical disability or a mental one, there is no doubt that they can truly change people’s lives for the better. And with current political turmoil, debates over vaccinations, natural disasters occurring around the world as we battle climate change, and our continuous journey navigating the Covid-19 pandemic, there has never been a more important time to prioritize our physical and mental health; service animals help us do both. We’re here to provide guidance and recommendations when it comes to your mental health. Contact us to set up an appointment at any of our five locations or via telehealth.