ABH Maryland

5 Exciting Reasons To Get A Service Animal


5 Exciting Reasons To Get A Service Animal

  • Mental Health

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.

girl hugging her service dog
  • 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.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.