Animals help us, humans, in so many ways. They help to relieve stress and heal injuries to predicting seizures and support mental health. The perk of dogs is that they don't partake in discrimination.
In a world where discrimination and prejudice are daily struggles for those within the LGBTQ+ community can take a toll on more than just their mental health. Dog's are making a change to that.
Animal therapy isn't just adding a dog to your routine psychologist visit. However, there are some impressive benefits to using animals in treatment.
The two most common types of animal therapy are first when animals take a trip to a facility such as a nursing home to help the residents relieve stress. The second is the Reading Education Assistance Dogs program that helps those who struggle with reading.
Fun Fact: The L in LGBTQ+ is placed in front for a reason. During the Aids epidemic, gay men were being refused treatment by staff because of how the illness was preceived at the time. Lesbians stepped up and became nurses to help combat the epidemic.
Related: May is National Pet Month
Does human-animal interaction impact a person's experience and wellbeing?
Yes, it does. According to an article titled "Human-animal interactions: Benefits for children and youth" published in the Journal of Promotion of Child Health, a well-known review studied the impact on children with disabilities who interacted with animals in their homes over a 10-month span. The results showed that both health conditions and psychological wellbeing improved when animals were used as a part of their healing process.
But the benefits don't stop there with children.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) by National Center for Transgender Equality, people who identify as transgender face more psychological distress than those who identify as Cis population. Even within their own community, many Trans teens face difficulties that can cause lifelong damage to their mental wellbeing.
"Nearly half (48%) of all respondents reported that they had seriously considered killing themselves in the past year, compared to 4% of the general population in the United States."
And psychological distress like this only becomes more prevalent for transgender people of color.
Animals and their non-judgmental nature can help these teens find themselves and find confidence.
We here at Natural Craving believe in quality of life and your supportive pet deserves the best. Check out our website for more information on how we are helping communities around us.
While we talked a bit about some of the common types of animal therapy, there are some other ways that animals are helping LGBTQ+ teens.
Having pets offers a variety of benefits, such as.
- Fitness. Even small animals need regular care, and this helps those who are struggling to have small goals. It doesn't mean you have to run every day, but having a pet helps to encourage more activity.
- Social. As members of the LGBTQ+ community often have feelings of unwantedness or like the person is a burden to those they care about, animals help us break through those barriers and offer a loving outlet.
- Responsibility. Having a sense of responsibility can often help some of those who are struggling with mental illness.
- Companionship. LGBTQ+ teens and adults often feel more isolated than other identifying people. This is especially true when families are not accepting. Pet's offer a unique opportunity for unjudgmental friendship.
- Mental health. Having a pet can be a great way to reduce stress and improve mental health. For those who identify as LGBTQ+, there is no one right way to look or feel. Pets help us embrace the many different types of people we see in our world today.
Related: Barking Buddha - A Healthy Balance
How Animals are Helping LGBTQ+
Recently academic attention has turned to focus more on the intersections of human and animal lives in the context of LGBTQ+ communities. Researchers have explored how close kinship relationships with pets may help give meaning to the lives of those within the LGBTQ+, helping to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
A research team has just released on the importance of pet companions in the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals who experience intimate partner or family abuse. Furthermore, the research found that LGBTQ+ people who experience intimate partner violence and whose animal companions were also subjected to violence often showed lower levels of social support. And higher levels of psychological distress than people whose animal companions were not.
However, when it came to family violence, animals in the home played a protective role. Even if the role of a pet was just as an emotional support position. The data has shown that an animal's undying love and loyalty helped many LGBTQ+ youth make it through abusive upbringings.
Companion Animals and LGBTQ+ Youth
Being a teen is hard enough to deal with, and those teens who are LGBTQ+ often find the struggle even harder. These teens often deal with resistance or outright abuse from family members and friends as they try to figure out who they are. Pet's can be the saving grace in these teen's lives.
Even if the teen is entirely accepted and in a loving home, the inner struggle that these young adults are going through can be complex. Having a companion animal often gives them something to focus on. Even just owning fish can have a positive impact.
The Benefits of Animal Therapy
Animals seem to have a magical healing power within them. And when it comes to helping those within the LGBTQ+ community, animals see no difference.
Those who do partake in therapy both with and without animals often have a better quality of life overall. Studies have seen a drop in self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and an increased sense of purpose.
And when it comes to those who live with animals, this has been especially true. Pets provide not only companionship but also social support, which helps in reducing anxiety and feelings of isolation.
Companionship is something that everyone desires at the end of the day. And for people within the LGBTQ+ community, having a pet can be a life-changing experience.
Animals seem to have their own set of superpowers as they make those within the LGBTQ+ community feel like they're not alone. Thus, for those who are struggling to find their place in society or anyone looking to make a change, having an animal companion can give you the courage and empathy needed to get through whatever may lie ahead of you.
Don’t forget that you can easily adopt your next best friend through a local shelter or a rescue. And make sure to pick up some treats from Natural Craving. Shop Now.