Adam Smith Business School (ASBS) Peer Support returned to the Queen Margaret Union (QMU) this month with the hugely popular Paws Against Stress event.
The event was organised in partnership with Canine Concern Scotland, a trust established to promote research into the therapeutic value of dogs. Six dogs were brought to the QMU for two hours and attendees were invited to book appointments to interact with them.
The event, held at the beginning of October, was inundated with students seeking stress relief with dog-petting slots quickly being filled in the run up to the day. However, drop-in sessions were still accepted on the day of the event.
Animal assisted intervention (AAI) is a developing method of therapy that has proven to be psychologically beneficial to people experiencing stress and is an established practice in the US. Studies have linked petting dogs and other household pets to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
As well as a calming and affectionate presence, visitors found that the dogs also proved to be excellent ice-breakers by creating an informal atmosphere vital to an open discussion on mental health.
Helena Mok, a volunteer at the event, found the Paws Against Stress project to be very effective in helping students handle stress. “I understand that there is a huge amount of students who apply to the counselling service in the University,” she commented, “Being one of the peer supporters, I’m trained to listen and understand the concerns that students might have. This will alleviate some pressure from the counselling service and help the student between the waiting times.” The University Counselling Services website advises students to be prepared for waits of up to 3 months.
With the overwhelming turnout the ASBSPS hopes to bring the dogs back for future Paws Against Stress events.