Nigeria, like every other country, has people who suffer from mental health challenges. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that one in four Nigerian people suffer from mental health challenges, which means that about 50 million Nigerians have a mental illness.
With the heightened global mental health awareness campaigns, scientific studies about the relationship between pet ownership and mental health are receiving increasing attention. In this blog, we shall explore the mental health benefits of owning a pet in Nigeria.
What Is Mental Health?
According to the WHO, mental health is defined as a person’s ability to positively use one’s intellectual and emotional abilities and skills in a productive, independent and subjective way. Essentially, mental health entails coping with stress associated with work and life efficiently and effectively, thereby making positive contributions to one’s own community.
If a person fails to cope with stress and fails to function normally mentally, they will suffer from mental disorders. Examples of mental disorders are depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, among others.
The Mental Health Benefits of Owning A Pet
You can use pets to reduce the effects of mental disorders. Studies show that pets have an inbuilt stress-relieving system that improves a person’s quality of life and facilitate social participation. In the following sections, we shall look at the different ways pets can restore or maintain mental health and their benefits.
- Pets can draw a person out from depression: Depression is a mood disorder that emanates from feeling extreme sadness, anger and loss. Depression affects a person’s daily life routine such that the person becomes unproductive. A depressed person withdraws from social life and social relationships. The advantage of having a pet for a person suffering from depression is they can receive unconditional love from the pet, which has a soothing effect. Furthermore, pets can increase a person’s self-esteem by encouraging caring habits for them. Scientists argue that stroking a pet improves a person’s mood. This act of stroking an animal helps to reduce stress and lowers blood pressure.
2. Pets have the ability to reduce a person’s anxiety. Anxiety is the body’s way of responding to fear or change. The body reacts to stress caused by fear of change by becoming apprehensive or nervous. Anxiety becomes a mental health disorder when it lasts for several months. Anxiety disorder can stop a person from performing their day-to-day tasks. There are various kinds of anxiety disorders such as phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, illness anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. It is advantageous for a person with an anxiety disorder to have a pet because pets help reduce the anxiety level. For example, pets help people cope with anxiety associated with homesickness. Pets fill the gap caused by missing family members and provide social support.
3. Another benefit is pets can help with anxiety caused by social rejection. Pets can also help to lower anxieties caused by socialisation. Past research shows that pets can help people who have personality disorders like borderline disorder and schizophrenia. Animals are capable of following human communication; therefore, they can pick up any emotional changes. Pets are known to help people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder anxieties by engaging them, drawing them out of their isolation and treating their emotional numbness. Pets also equip people with coping skills. Moreover, caressing a pet is a well-known method of reducing anxiety.
4. Pets can help to prevent or reduce drug addiction. Drug addiction or substance use disorder is a mental health challenge that emanates from the uncontrollable use of drugs or medication, which affects the brain’s normal functions. Pets help people to tackle their feelings in stressful situations by developing accountability and feelings of responsibility. When a person owns a pet, they have to develop and maintain routines such as exercising. In addition to using recommended therapy methods, pets can also help people suffering from drug addiction. Studies suggest that some pets have the ability to detect medical conditions by detecting changes in human bodies. People who are drug addicts seek pleasure that is triggered by the uncontrollable use of a substance. Therefore, stroking a pet can trigger that same sense of pleasure found in drugs.
Based on the information above, it is clear that you can derive several mental health benefits from owning pets, especially in Nigeria. Petlovers.com.ng has dogs, cats and birds, which can be used to improve mental health conditions. Whilst, some pets are more active and more interactive than others, Petlovers.com.ng will help you choose the right pet that suits your budget and health maintenance needs. Petlovers.com.ng has a team of dedicated staff who will advise regarding the different types of pets suitable for increasing mental health. Check out our pet store for the range of pets we have in stock.