TheraPaws dogs and volunteers take centre stage at the National Theatre to spread awareness and promote positive mental health
For Mental Health Awareness Week (8–14 May 2017), the Mayhew Animal Home’s TheraPaws programme teamed up with the National Theatre in London to help raise awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing.
The Mayhew Animal Home is an animal welfare charity that looks to save thousands of cats and dogs from cruelty and neglect each year, through caring and rehoming them. The charity also works with the community in London to help encourage people to take better care of their pets, and reduce the crisis of pets being given to shelters or abandoned in the first place.
TheraPaws is their incredible initiative that takes dogs into hospitals, hospices and care homes in London to visit elderly patients as animal therapy. As well as encouraging social interaction and helping to reduce stress, playing and petting the dogs can have other positive effects on people, such as promoting compassion towards animals, and gives those lovely doggies some well-deserved attention.
The Mental Health Foundation has previously said about the benefits of animals on a person’s mental health, particularly for the elderly who can find comfort in a four-legged companion. They say, “It is thought that a dog can be a stress buffer that softens the effects of adverse events on a person.” And even that, “With an animal in the home, people with Alzheimer’s are thought to have fewer anxious outbursts.”
At this event, TheraPaws volunteers Ilonka Scaman with her dog BenJecky, Helen Liu with her dog Java, Kelly Scarrott with her dog Winston and Peter Waldman with his dog Tobi visited the National Theatre in South Bank on Friday 12 May. The theatre stages up to 30 productions each year, ranging from classics to modern masterpieces and new work by contemporary writers and theatre-makers. But it was most definitely the TheraPaws pups who took centre stage, and received plenty of praise, cuddles and attention from everyone there.
Luke Berman, TheraPaws project manager, said, “Our TheraPaws programme is a great way to promote and raise awareness of mental health. As well as enhancing people’s lives by helping to reduce social isolation, stress and unlocking memories and emotions, the initiative also helps animals by raising awareness of the positive effects dogs can have, including promoting respect and compassion towards animals.”
If you’d like to find out more about the incredible work the TheraPaws dogs and volunteers do, and how these furry friends bring happiness to people’s lives, visit their website. You can also head there to request a visit from their lovely canine team, to volunteer with them, or to donate and support them in helping bring some happiness and companionship to the elderly.
I think they deserve a round of ap-paws.