Over the past year or so at SCAS, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of enquiries specifically asking about mental health ‘assistance dogs’. In the UK at the present time, there are no charities that train dogs for people with mental health issues where this is the only disability. Psychiatric Service dogs are trained in some other countries, but not in the UK (Assistance Dogs UK).
There can be no denial that for many people with mental health conditions the company of their pet dog can be a huge enabler in terms of going about their daily lives. We’ve heard from many people that feel they could not leave the house if it were not for the company of their dog.
It is sometimes less clear what the specific tasks are that a dog might perform for a particular person or disabling mental health condition. For many people it is the emotional support that the dog provides that is of most help to them and sadly, in most cases, providing emotional support is not considered to be a specific task. We can all benefit from the emotional support of our dogs.
For more information regarding therapy dogs and assistance dogs please read our information page.
SCAS wants to help and we are talking with other organisations about improving the information that is available relating to this matter and to explore the possibilities, challenges, obstacles and potential for an improved provision for those with mental health conditions and their dogs.
We would like to hear from you if you have a mental health condition and have thoughts about how your dog does and could help you to cope when going about your daily life. This is an anonymous survey and your input is very welcome.