Pets contribute to improving the emotional well-being of young people

Bonding with dogs and cats is a source of social support in a context in which 60 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 29 claim they have experienced mental health problems during the past year.

Image by freepik.diller on Freepik.Image by freepik.diller on Freepik.

Living with a dog or cat improves the emotional health of youth. This is said by the Affinity Foundation, which, on the occasion of World Adolescent Mental Wellness Day, celebrated on March 2, wants to highlight the importance of the bond with pets and strengthen them as a source of unwavering social support Is. for the people . And as per Youth Barometer 2023. Health and Well-being of the Mutua Madrileña Foundation and Fad Juventud, almost 60% of Spaniards between the ages of 15 and 29 claim to have experienced mental health problems in the last year.

With the aim of raising awareness of the benefits of animals on the emotional health of teenagers, and especially the role of dogs and cats as a source of social support, the Affinity Foundation wanted to publicize the stories of two young women, Noa and Maria. For whom coexistence and the bond created with their animals has been a fundamental part of overcoming the difficult problems they face during adolescence.

Noah is currently 17 years old and is suffering from Naughty In his early teens, that led to a series of self-harm incidents that culminated in two suicide attempts. The relationship with his dogs Gaspar and Walder was important when it came to overcoming this extremely complex moment in his life: “Gaspar was like a diary for me; I felt like I was telling him what was happening to me, like I was writing, and he wasn’t judging me. Walder, from the very beginning he made me feel very special, he brightened my day and woke me up in a good mood. Both of these have been crucial in getting me out of that cycle of discomfort and I now look much better,” he explains. Noa also highlighted the role of her mother and Maribel Villa of the Affinity Foundation, who is training her as a technician in Animal Assisted Therapies as Noa wants to work with teenagers in the future and help them overcome their problems. Want to help them.

For her part, 18-year-old Maria Crivillé also suffered NaughtyDue to which she suffered from eating disorders since the age of 11. For him, “Animals are family, they are friends and they are home. For me, my dogs were another type of medicine during the entire process. When I cry they sit next to me and shake me, and they don’t leave until I say enough. I think that, if they have been great therapies for me, they can be for others too,” he says. Currently, Maria has an Animal Intervention Technician degree and an Intermediate degree in Care of People with Disabilities. is also.

Benefits of interacting with dogs and cats

The positive effects of contact with animals on the emotional health of teenagers have been scientifically proven. “The ability of companion animals to help and provide unconditional support becomes especially important when, for various reasons, the individual’s network of contacts is reduced or compromised, which is the case in this screen-dominated digital That’s common in the era”, says director Jaime Fatjo. President of the Affinity Animals and Health Foundation at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “For these youth, contact with animals not only provides them with immediate support, due to the fact that it is someone who does not judge them and is always available, but it also promotes interaction with other people. Which makes their network socially richer,” he adds.

Dogs and cats therefore represent a secure attachment for adolescents that positively influences feelings of anxiety and depression and the perception of loneliness, strengthening them when facing situations that may be difficult for them. . “Also, at a time when sometimes it seems that we are more focused on ourselves than on others, the fact of living with an animal that demands your care and has its own needs, Reveals the human capacity to help others and receive help from them, which makes adolescents feel useful, strengthens their self-esteem and self-acceptance, makes them more willing to connect with other people and As a result, their emotional health improves,” says Jaime Fatjo.

Studies conducted to date indicate that the impact of living with animals, however, depends on the particularities of each adolescent and the environment in which they live. “Thus, although there are very clear benefits of interacting with dogs and cats, we should not consider it the only solution for the emotional and mental health problems of young people,” explains Jaume Fatjo.


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