SLIDESHOW: Patting a pet helps stressed Sheffield students

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Stressed students enjoyed the feel-good factor as Sheffield University became the second nationwide to offer pet therapy.

Hundreds of undergraduates turned up to the pilot of a project where canine companions are petted to help improve general wellbeing and mood.

Labrador puppies training with the Guide Dog Association – as well as a therapy dog called Mouse which has been adopted by the university – were on hand to meet and greet the crowds at the pet therapy café.

Louise Knowles, head of the university’s counselling and psychological wellbeing service, said: “I expected about 20 or 30 students to come along, but we had more than 200 people.

“We ran out of feedback forms and there were queues all down the road.

“All the students said they felt less stressed after the event.

“One of our international students came up and said she had never petted a dog before, and had loved it. I was touched. Some students who have left pets at home also came.”

Animal-assisted therapy, which has also been used at Edinburgh University and is popular in American colleges, is said to reduce stress, blood pressure, isolation and boredom.

The Sheffield event, at the counselling service on Wilkinson Street, Broomhall, was held as part of university mental health day – and more are planned.

Students were also able to enjoy tea and cake.

Louise said: “There is evidence stroking animals reduces stress. It was of mutual benefit because the guide dogs need to be socialised.

“We are planning to run pet therapy again and also a laughter workshop.”




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