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Pets can help heal mental illness

By: Kim Atienza

GO, get a pet.

Oftentimes, we don’t realize the role pets play in our life.

Without our knowing it, they do play a big part in our state of health, especially mental health.

According to a report by Reuters Health, pets could play an active role in the treatment of their owners’ long-term mental health problems.

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The report is based on findings by the authors of a small study in the United Kingdom.

Researchers there found that many pets were seen as the most valuable and central social support in owners’ lives, often providing secure relationships not available through human ties.

“Pets are of significant value to those managing serious mental illness and should be considered a mainstay rather than a marginal source of support,” lead study author Helen Brooks of the University of Manchester told Reuters Health.

For instance, pets help build stable and close relationships that aren’t available elsewhere, especially for those who stay mostly at home and have limited human contact, she said. Pets also provide a consistent physical presence and often distract owners from symptoms or upsetting experiences such as suicidal thoughts.

Brooks and colleagues conducted interviews with 54 people diagnosed with long-term mental health problems, focusing on the day-to-day experience of living with a mental illness. They asked questions about the relationship, value and meaning of pets in the owners’ lives.

One of them said: “I can trust him (my dog) more than people.”

Another participant said, “(The cat) knows when to come on my lap and when to leave me alone. I don’t have to tell him, he just senses me, you know, he just senses my feelings.”

TRIVIA PA MORE (Various Sources): What is the etymology of the word “bookworm,” referring to people who love reading books.

During the early centuries, worms used to live and lay eggs inside books. Thus, people who are fond of books are compared to them…bookworms.

Book Project Manila is a non-profit book drive that aims to give people access to books.

Send your questions on anything and everything to Kuya Kim through my Twitter account @kuyakim_atienza using #AlaminKayKuyaKim.

Ating tuklasin ang mga bagay-bagay na di niyo pa alam. Walang ’di susuungin, lahat aalamin. Ito po si Kuya Kim, Matanglawin, only here in TEMPO.

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