Mental health is an important topic, especially during these uncertain times. In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some of the mental health benefits that the companionship of our pets can bring us. As many of us have experienced first hand, studies have found that human-animal interactions can certainly help reduce loneliness, ease our anxieties, and lift our moods.
Pets are a source of unconditional love and support for many of us. They’re great at keeping our secrets, listening to our worries, and providing comfort. Even just a few minutes of petting an animal have been shown to reduce blood pressure, release “happiness hormones” such as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin (which help calm and relax the nervous system), and reduce levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). The routine of caretaking for a pet helps us feel ontologically secure - meaning that their companionship gives us a feeling of security and meaning. Pets are also great at encouraging us to be active and social, which brings its own range of benefits to our health and mental well-being.
In addition to the comforts your pet can provide, here are some national mental health resources you can check out:
⦁ Mental Health America
⦁ American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
⦁ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
⦁ Suicide Prevention Lifeline