Thursday, October 8, 2015

Comfort animals on campus.


The New York Times ran an article on comfort animals being allowed in university housing, now that anxiety and depression are on the rise on campuses. Mental health is more likely to be discussed, as are the aids and comforts of those suffering.
Research on the therapeutic value of animals is limited. Some studies have shown that they can provide a short-term benefit, particularly in reducing anxiety and depression. A long-term therapeutic benefit, however, has not been definitively established by randomized control trials. 
Joanne Goldwater, associate dean of students and director of residence life at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, is not concerned about objective evidence. “Having that animal has clearly helped to reduce stress and anxiety for some students,” she said, “which helps them progress towards their degree.” 
Students concur. Ms. Brill, a film major, wrapped her arms around Theo’s neck. “Theo helps me when I’m feeling isolated and depressed,” she said. On wobbly days, he gives her structure, she added, because she must get out of bed to feed, brush and walk him. “All I have to do is look at Theo, squish his face a lot in the evenings, and he’s like, ‘Hey, I love you!’ ” 
Her roommate Ms. McCarthy, a psychology major, tucked Carl into her neck, stroking his silky fur as he eagerly nuzzled her ear. “When I feel a panic attack coming on, feeling his heartbeat helps me regulate my own,” she said.
This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. I really miss my brother's dog. I had him for three weeks while my brother was on holiday. I walked him, and took him to the dog park everyday. I He also slept with me. He's just a really nice dog, with a funny personality, and I miss him. 

Anxiety isn't as much of an issue for me as it once was. I was disabled by panic attacks in university and college, which now seems to be the norm
According to the New York Times, depression is no longer the most common mental health problem for college students. Anxiety is now the biggest concern, with more than half of students in a recent study reporting they suffer from anxiety.
Business Insider reports that students in this generation have a harder time coping with stress, due in part to the prevalence of helicopter parents. 
"They can't tolerate discomfort or having to struggle," Dan Jones, director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, told The Times. "A primary symptom is worrying, and they don't have the ability to soothe themselves." ​
There seems to be a lot of focus attributed to the generation itself. This is from an Atlantic notes post:
Everyone and their creepy uncle can get a psychiatric diagnosis. And it’s no secret that millennials are not only over-diagnosed, but see diagnoses as categories of oppression/identity (because of course oppression = identity). So we have the intersection of entitlement, coddling, hysteria, and identity politics, all in the person of a pot-bellied pig who’s allowed to crap all over a college dorm because the administration fears a visit from the litigation bogeyman. Oy gevalt.
See this person doesn't have a pet. They also have a shitty attitude. They're also super dismissive of mental illness as a legitimate problem. Overall, they're the worst. I can extract some use out of their shittyness, mainly that over identifying with an identity (like my being depressed) can be harmful to me. Sometimes I let it haunt me too much, and that limits me. This person still has a douchey-bro vibe though, and I guess, also Jewish? If they aren't then they're also culturally inappropriate.

Also from the comments/notes on the Atlantic, a dad wrote in about his experiences with anxiety and coping, and how he supports animals on campus:
My son is at college after being treated for anxiety and depression. Like most pet owners, he found our cat to be a great comfort and the cat did lessen his anxiety. He didn’t take the cat to school because he’s in a small dorm room that the cat wouldn’t enjoy. It’s also against campus rules.
But I would like to see pets in campus owned apartments 
I don’t think of this as coddling. It’s far better than the pot and alcohol I used in my college years to cope with anxiety. That’s how we anxious people dealt with it back in the “good old days,” when anxiety and depression were seldom diagnosed in college students. You think this was a better way to deal with it? I’d rather my child have a pet.
Well. I think this actually relates to the earlier argument that the generation can't self-sooth. It can, just in different ways. In ways that need to be addressed. It just makes sense. There's something tactile about petting an animal, it adds structure to walk a dog, to feed it, to brush it. You have a little being that cares about you, and you for it. It's a little friend. It helps. You can kind of empty your brain when with an animal. It's calming.


Also, people are actually talking about what they need, and what would help. There is an open dialogue on campuses about anxiety, depression and suicide. So people are actually saying, "Yes, I feel a lot of anxiety, and this would help me."

Any University that wants a future student-body, will listen to those who pay to go there. 

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