Uni helps stressed students unwind by introducing dog walking sessions
One university has finally done the right thing and introduced dog walking for students feeling the strain of studying.
The University of East Anglia (UEA) has answered all of our prayers and introduced a dog-walking initiative for students to take part in during their exam season.
The Norwich-based university recently received £12,000 worth of funding as part of a student wellbeing initiative.
The money is intended to help create opportunities for physical activity, so part of the budget has been spent on the best physical activity imaginable: walking some furry friends.
Students are expected to enjoy walks with their doggos on Cromer Beach and Thetford Forest, while these cuddly chums are being lent to the university by academics and local owners.
Why is pet therapy useful?
We’re about to get a bit deep here, but pet therapy is a widely-used practice to tackle a whole host of mental and physical illnesses, from improving movement abilities, verbal communication, and social skills, to decreasing feelings of loneliness, reducing anxiety, and improving motor skills.
This form of therapy builds on pre-existing human-animal bonds. The interaction with a friendly pet often releases endorphins and has a calming effect on the person.
Essentially there is a lot of science to prove all universities should provide dogs. All. The. Time.
Professor Andy Jones from Norwich Medical School has conducted research on pet therapy and told The Telegraph:
Our studies have shown that dog walking helps people to maintain their physical activity levels. In addition it is known that there is wide range of social and mental health benefits.
Phil Steele, director of sport and commercial services at the university, added:
Many students live far away from their family homes and pets, so having contact with animals can be stress-relieving for them.
We also hope to reduce some of the stigma which still surrounds mental health and raise awareness of the benefits of physical activity for mental wellbeing.
Mental health at university
Mental health problems at university are a growing problem, despite universities spending £50 million a year on mental health support in the past five years.
This is according to a Times investigation, which also found that demand for mental health services has risen by 45%. Tragically, last year 95 students committed suicide while at university.
The rise in mental health issues can be for a number reasons, but one key problem concerns money. In last year’s National Student Money Survey, 46% of respondents said that money troubles have affected their mental health, while 78% felt worried about making ends meet while studying.
How to cope with exam stress
Whether you are suffering from a mental health condition or not, the stress of exams can take a real toll on both your physical and mental health at uni. In fact, a whopping 71% of students said their workload had the biggest impact on their mental health.
If you are feeling like you need support, check out what services your university has to offer, such as a student mental health support service.
There are also loads of helpful charities out there like Student Minds, who run support groups for those struggling with mental health. Helplines like the Samaritans, Nightline, Mind and Sane are there to help you too.
Also remember that if you mental health is impacting your ability to submit work, you can apply for mitigating or extenuating circumstances for exams or coursework. This should give you a little extra time to get things done.
What's more, students with mental health conditions are often eligible for the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA), which could ease any financial concerns you've got.
Finally, try to be kind to yourself during heavy work periods. If you've worked all day, give yourself a few hours to wind down in the evening. Relax in front of the TV, see your friends, eat well and do some exercise.
And, finally, cuddle some dogs! You could even go one step further and get a job pet sitting. That's right – dogs and money. What could be better?!