Therapy animals gain popularity with college students

Global Business

Therapy animals gain popularity with college students

Stress and anxiety felt by college students isn’t something new, especially during final exams. But an increasing number of students that are diagnosed with mental disability are turning to a unique form of therapy to better cope with their issues.

CCTV America’s May Lee reports.

Therapy animals gain popularity with college students

Therapy animals gain popularity with college students

Stress and anxiety felt by college students isn’t something new, especially during final exams. But an increasing number of students that are diagnosed with mental disability are turning to a unique form of therapy to better cope with their issues. CCTV America’s May Lee reports.

Cynthia Harris is a student at Cal State University Long Beach, whose been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She gets comfort from her furry companion Charlie’s emotional support or ESA. 

“I kind of felt secluded from the world in a sense and so having her she helped me kind of get back into that, get back into feeling like myself. When I have her around I feel more open because she gives me that safety,” said Harris.

That’s no surprise. Science has proven that just petting a dog reduces stress and releases oxytocin, the love hormone.

Cal State Long Beach is one of a growing number of college campuses that allow students diagnosed with a mental health disability to have pets. The program is booming.

Rachael Mahgerefth runs the ESA program. She points out that unlike service animals, which train for years to assist people with physical or severe psychiatric disabilities, ESAs don’t require training – but a medical recommendation is needed.

But legitimacy is sometimes questioned when it comes to emotional support animals on campus. Some students try and take advantage of the system and make false claims which can dilute the genuine purpose of the program.

All the more reason colleges like Cal State Long Beach, developed official ESA programs on campus to avoid any abuse. This way students like Jessica Rotter, who struggles with anxiety, can continue relying on her faithful friend.

“If an emotional support animal is something that gets you by and gets you through the day then that’s what you gotta do,” said Rotter.

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