Exclusive Announcement: Animal Assisted Therapy
Keele University Students’ Union is thrilled to announce that it will soon be hosting regular ‘Animal Assisted Wellbeing’ sessions for students. Thanks to the kind donations of the Keele Key Fund, KeeleSU has been able to organise a partnership with Nesta’s Ark, a mobile educational zoo to run animal wellbeing sessions to help alleviate stress and anxiety amongst students.
Across the country, student mental health is an area of intense concern. Increasing numbers of students are reporting mental ill health, with a YouGov survey in 2016 finding that at least 1 in 4 students affected by clinical levels of psychological distress. Mental Health and wellbeing has become a top priority this year for KeeleSU, with elected officers organising mental health panels and wellbeing campaigns. The union has been investigating innovative ways to improve student’s mental health and wellbeing and we are excited to be able to offer regular animal assisted wellbeing sessions.
Soon, Keele students will be able to book free half an hour slots with Nesta’s ark, who will be bringing a wide array of mammals and reptiles into the Students’ Union in ‘The Bubble’ destress room. Only 15 students a time will be able to access the mobile zoo, meaning they can maximise their calming contact with the animals! From now until the end of May, there will be 750 spaces available for students to access the sessions and we believe they will fill up quickly!
Whilst Animal Assisted Therapy should not be used as an alternative to professional mental health support, there is significant evidence to support that spending meaningful time with animals is good for your mental health. Studies have found that petting a dog or cat can increase your levels of serotonin and dopamine, hormones directly linked to mood. Student Services are also involved in the project and will be able to reserve spaces for students who are accessing other services such as counselling.
Last year, Keele students were treated to a day long petting zoo by Nesta’s ark in the Outback. This event was run as a celebration event for reaching record breaking election turnout in the KeeleSU Elections. This event was immensely popular, with hundreds of students attending.
We can’t wait to start these regular Animal Wellbeing sessions. More information will be appearing on keelesu.com in the next week and the provisional dates are as follows:
- Monday 12th February
- Tuesday 6th March
- Wednesday 18th April
- Friday 4th May
- Thursday 24th May