Pets Can Help Manage The Pain Of Serious Mental Illness
Anyone with a pet will tell you that their animal companions comfort and sustain them when life gets tough. This may be especially true for people with serious mental illnesses. Many people with a serious mental illness live at home and have limited contact with the health care system, leaving them to manage their conditions on their own. This may explain why many feel deep emotional connections with their pets, which oftentimes aren't available from friends and family.
People with mental illnesses often see their social groups shrink and find themselves alienated from their friends. For many, pets can break through that isolation, giving affection without needing to understand the disorder.
Sometimes pets can provide more than just emotional support and companionship. They can also distract people from their illness or keep them from withdrawing from the world. For instance, having to walk a dog multiple times a day helps get people out of the house, creating a routine, and socializing with others. For those who are unemployed, having a pet to take care of sometimes provides a source of pride.
For these reasons, more health workers are considering incorporating pets into care plans for people with mental illness.