A four-legged staff member has been recruited at Loughborough College to support student mental health on campus.
Four-month-old cockapoo puppy, Mylie, has become the centre’s first ever therapy dog and will be seen regularly on site.
The furry friend will help pupils with issues around self esteem and acceptance from others.
Interacting with therapy dogs can also help with issues as wide as reducing blood pressure, assisting with pain management and motivating someone to move and walk around.
Mylie will also increase the sense of a college family environment.
Safeguarding and inclusion lead, Dannii Donovan, who is Mylie’s owner, said: “There have been numerous research studies which show the benefits of therapy dogs in schools and we hope Mylie will become an integral part of our college community by supporting students experiencing mental health challenges.
“It is the first time Loughborough College has used a therapy pet as part of its student support offer and she has already made a difference to a student I’ve been working with.”
The little pooch has already helped Level 3 Sports student Cara Gallop, 18, when she was struggling with her own mental health.
She said: “Any strategies to support the increasing number of young people who face mental health challenges is fantastic and, in Mylie, I think the college has taken a brilliant step in the right direction because therapy dogs offer a companionship that you may not be able to find in those around you.
“Encountering any form of mental illness is one of the most draining and exhausting experiences anyone can face, so my hope is that Mylie will help other students in their fight, as she helped me.
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“She’s also so irresistible to people that she’s a great way of starting the conversation about mental health and I think we need to talk about it more openly.”
The mental health charity Young Minds has said that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on the mental health of young people, with 67 per cent of young people saying the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.
Heather Clarke, assistant principal and designated safeguarding lead at Loughborough College, said: “We pride ourselves on finding new and innovative ways to support our college community, especially when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.
“The evidence of the benefits of therapy dogs is overwhelming and we cannot wait to welcome Mylie to the wellbeing team and to see her working with students and staff.”