Do pets hold the key to our mental wellbeing?

Mental health and pets are regularly linked as animals can offer companionship to those who need it most.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 14th to 20th May, Argos Pet Insurance highlights the benefits of pet ownership.

A sense of purpose

Pets require a regular routine. Everyday tasks such as feeding times or walks offer those with mental health a sense of purpose.

Social Contact

As a nation of dog lovers, the daily walk can be an opportunity for an owner to chat with others. This is especially important for people who are lonely as social contact is a very important factor when it comes to maintaining good mental health.

Pets are comforting

Mental health and pets go hand in hand, as just the presence of a pet can have a calming effect. Pets make loyal and affectionate companions and those who are less outgoing may benefit from owning a pet.

It has been proven that simply having a pet close by can combat stress and anxiety, * further strengthening the link between good mental health and pets.

The companionship offered by pets also combats loneliness. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression.

The immune system

Children who grow up in homes with pets are also less likely ** to develop common allergies. Allergies can often cause people to become lethargic and suffer from insomnia. These issues can make people more vulnerable to mental health issues, such as depression.

They make you smile

If your pet does something cute or funny, the natural reaction is to smile. The simple act of smiling raises your serotonin and dopamine levels. These are directly linked to feelings of calmness and happiness.

This years campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on stress, which can be a key trigger for many mental health issues.

Pet owners and their four-legged friends can get involved in a number of ways to help raise awareness – more information can be found on the Mental Health Foundation’s website where you can find events near to you.

 

* http://people.com/pets/new-study-university-british-columbia-therapy-dogs-reduce-stress-students/

** http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=116852&page=1#.UYLj7Csjo0N