15th May 2019
During Mental Health Awareness Week, bunnies, lambs, ducks and piglets brought joy and relaxation to students who attended special Animal Therapy sessions.
The mobile farm was available to students, over two days, encouraging them to handle and pet a range of animals and provide them with a workable and realistic strategy to increase their positive mental health. The students enjoyed the opportunity to take time out to stroke and cuddle the cute little creatures and interact with the larger ones!
The activity highlighted the need for young people to look after their own mental health and how important it is to find activities to help them cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life, especially during exam season. Ingrid Kellock, Student Development Manager at York College said: “Studies have shown that petting an animal can reduce stress-related hormones, can raise serotonin and dopamine levels which are hormones that calm and relax the nervous system. These facts are incredibly powerful and we want our students to be aware.”
Understanding that good mental health is just as important as good physical health, York College students saw for themselves the wonderful effect animals can have. Musical Theatre student, Phoebe Stone said: “There is in doubt that animals help to lift your mood. I find it very calming when I stroke and play with animals – who would not find this relaxing? It’s really good to have this kind of event at College - suddenly my week seems a lot brighter!”
Activities and workshops during Mental Health Awareness Week also included a Positivity Day aimed at de-stigmatising mental health. The College's group of Mental Health Champions Students spoke to their fellow students about having no shame in talking about their feelings and fears.
Students were encouraged to talk about their anxieties and to think positively about any issues that may be worrying them. A Level student, Teigan Boyes said: “Being ashamed of poor mental health doesn’t just intensify suffering but prevents students from seeking treatment that can transform their lives. If we can be more positive about ourselves, about life and the future, then we can encourage others to think positively. Activities like this help to take away the stigma attached to mental health issues – we need to change attitudes.”