Pets offer “valuable support” for owners with long-term mental health problems, says study

Pets can play an important role in improving your mental wellbeing, according to a new scientific study.

The research, published in peer-reviewed journal BMC Psychiatry, suggested that pets “provide benefits to those with mental health conditions”.

In total, researchers looked at 17 international studies to better understand the effects dogs, cats, and other animals can have on humans.

Among the findings, it concluded that pets may be particularly significant in overcoming a mental health crisis by providing positive distractions.

Likewise, pets play an important role in the social networks of people managing a long-term mental health problem, as 60 per cent placed their pet in the central most important circle, while 20 per cent placed their pet in the second circle.

The study’s lead author, Dr Helen Brooks, said: “Our review suggests that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions.

“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.

“Further research is required to test the nature and extent of this relationship, incorporating outcomes that cover the range of roles and types of support pets confer in relation to mental health and the means by which these can be incorporated into the mainstay of support for people experiencing a mental health problem.”

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