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World Suicide Prevention Day 10 September – Pets Support Mental Health

Sep 07, 2020

Photo: Medical News

Faizel Patel – 07/09/2020

(Twitter: @FaizelPatel143)

As the prepares to acknowledge World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September, the seriousness of this the COVID-19 on the mental health of all individuals should not go amiss.

Recent research in the UK revealed that the number of people suffering with depression has almost doubled during this time.  Hill’s Pet Nutrition has always recognised the important role that pets have in helping people who suffer with mental health problems.

Pet behaviour expert Marycke Ackhurst from Hill’s says pets can assist with emotional support during difficult times.

“During the pandemic we have consistently provided South Africans with tips and information about how their pets can assist them in getting through these uncertain times and providing emotional support to the whole family.”

The well-being of many individuals has been impacted over this time, with an increase in feelings of stress and anxiety.  The UK survey showed that 84.9% of respondents were feeling this way.

Ackhurst says that she believes that the situation in South Africa would not be vastly different, with people who previously may not have suffered from depression or anxiety, facing a different reality now.

“There is no doubt that pets are great companions. They help their parents to create a routine and can also have a calming effect, whether it just be by sitting stroking them or playing with them.  Dogs can also help with exercise, which is not only good for the pet, but also beneficial to individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, or stress.”

Another interesting and worrying statistic that the recent UK survey revealed is that there was an increase in depression across all age groups. However, the greatest increase was among those aged 16 to 39, with an increase from 11% to 31%.

Individuals who may require emotional support are encouraged to contact The South African Depression and Anxiety Group or the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567.


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