Dogs Are Just a Respite: The Need for Mental Health Support at Colleges and Universities

Janice Chong, a senior in human physiology, pets Bear during her 30-minute rental of the pooch during the “Ducks Love Dogs” event on the University of Oregon campus Wednesday, May 3, 2017 in Eugene, Ore. The event is a a way for students to relieve stress and support Greenhill Humane Society and the UO Public Relation Student Society of American chapter. (Photo: Andy Nelson, The Register-Guard via AP)

At a backyard gathering this past weekend, my husband’s colleague mentioned how the dean was looking into getting an office dog, a pet for the college that would take up daily residence in the dean’s office suite.

As a dog owner (of perhaps the world’s best dog), I thought how much it would help me each day if Luna could go with me to the office. My students might even love having a class mascot. I started thinking about how my own university would feel about this idea.

A recent story in USA Today College leads with a picture of a young woman, presumably a college student, petting her 30-minute rental “pooch.” The event on the University of Oregon campus was similar to what many college campuses already do – bring in cats and dogs during high stress times.

The article itself, entitled “More and More Students Need Mental Health Services, but Colleges Struggle to Keep Up,” explains that college students need a lot more than these temporary fixes, however. Anxiety, depression, stress, family, and school create major health concerns on campuses. But with colleges strapped for money and resources, it can be difficult to meet the demand for mental health treatment. Caroline Simon, writing for USA Today College, discusses the serious situation and reports on efforts being made to do more than just hire a furry friend for some stress relief.

Check out the full story in USA Today College.