“Reassuring touch”: meet the local doggies helping mental illness sufferers

Meet Mishka and Koda – two furry volunteers at Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.

The dogs are available to be stroked by those with mental health problems attending some of Mind’s courses.

They also attend meet-and-greet events, as medical evidence indicates that dogs can reduce symptoms of conditions like anxiety in humans.

The two seven-year-old Alaskan Malamutes are looked after and trained by local Mind community support worker Shane Kennedy.

“The benefits of using the dogs really comes down to connection; whether you are stroking a dog or walking it up a mountain, the dogs can help not just to relieve stress but also to reconnect with something outside of yourself,” says Shane, who runs the charity Sled Dogs As Therapy UK alongside his work at Mind.

“They can be a great tool to help people express themselves.

“I have had individuals tell me some really deep stuff because they were looking at and stroking the dog whilst they were talking.

“I cannot take them by the hand and I cannot hug them as that’s breaking boundaries, but the dogs can. They can add that reassuring touch for people when needed,” he added.

For more info on volunteering locally for Mind visit www.cwmind.org.uk.

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