A mental health hospital in Bierley, near Bradford, is running an initiative to bring pets in to help patients to overcome their mental health issues.
The women-only hospital, run by Cygnet Health Care, has embarked on the initiative as the company believes, as several studies have shown, that contact with animals is of great benefit to patients overcoming mental health issues.
For instance, a study on the relationship between health and pet ownership by Bruce Heady in 2004 found that those who continuously owned a pet were the healthiest group, with significantly fewer visits to the GP. The study also discovered that those who acquired a pet, who had previously not had a pet, were the second healthiest group.
Tracey McGowan, ward manager of the personality disorder service at the hospital, is about to embark on an animal assisted therapy in counselling training course, which will further develop animal therapy at Cygnet Hospital Bierley. She said: "My dogs already visit the hospital for therapeutic purposes and we’ve found this to be beneficial to the patients. As a hospital, we are encouraging the use of animals as part of therapy, and we hope that Cygnet Hospital Bierley will be a flagship for this type of therapy.”
One service user said: "Having my dog come to visit made a massive difference. Snoop Dogg doesn’t ask questions or expect anything, so to have him be so happy to see me with unconditional love has been amazing. I first started to get well and talk when Snoop came. I am very grateful that staff allowed him to come."