The Power of Pets for Your Mental Health

Pets may have therapeutic benefits for owners with mental health conditions

(RxWiki News) Your four-legged friend might be helping your mental health, according to a new study.

This new study found that pets may provide significant therapeutic benefits to owners with mental health conditions. Many of the patients with severe mental illness who were interviewed for this study said their pets played positive roles in their management of their mental health conditions.

In fact, 60 percent of the study participants who had pets said their pets were among the most important members of their personal network. 

"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 judgement," said lead study author Dr. Helen Brooks, of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, in a press release. "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."

This finding led the study authors to say pets should be considered a source of support in the management of long-term mental health conditions.

The study was a small study with only 54 participants, which is a limitation of this study.

This study was published in the journal BMC Psychiatry.

The National Institute for Health Research funded this research. The study authors disclosed no potential conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 14, 2016