Are the chilly, cloudy months bringing you down? Every Monday from 11 a.m. to noon, Millersville University hosts therapy dogs for students to visit. And, the Counseling Center offers lightbox therapy.
Located in the SMC Atrium, KPETS volunteers bring their pups each week, letting students interact with their lovable companions.
KPETS, or Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services, is an organization focused on the power of human/animal interactions. KPETS volunteers provide services throughout the community for many different audiences who can benefit from a visit from a furry friend.
Laura Heller, the executive director at KPETS, shares that there are numerous benefits to pet therapy. “Pet Therapy is scientifically proven to help a person’s well-being through reducing stress, anxiety and blood pressure, stimulating positive communication, reducing loneliness and more,” she says.
The benefits of interacting with dogs, cats and other therapy animals can be especially meaningful during the winter. “Petting an animal will cause your brain to release endorphins which counteract your body’s reaction to pain.” explains Heller. “These endorphins bring a sense of pleasure or well-being to you as you interact with the animal, which in turn can help ease depression, among other things.”
While KPETS will be visiting every Monday, there may also be additional events that students should look out for. According to Rhonda Edgell, KPETS volunteer and visit coordinator, students may have the opportunity to visit other therapy animals. “While dogs are most plentiful, we also have two cats, a bunny and a few mini equines that may be available for an occasional visit.”
For more information about KPETS, visit its website at https://kpets.org
For resources about pets and mental health, visit The Human-Animal Bond for Mental health here.
Other resources on campus include lightbox therapy, which runs from now until March, courtesy of the Center for Counseling & Human Development at MU. Many students do not receive adequate sunlight during the winter, and the center supplies rooms with lightboxes that mimic outdoor light. Students can visit the center and complete their schoolwork in an environment that simulates sunlight, which in turn can help increase serotonin and lift students’ moods.
Students are encouraged to reach out to the Center for Counseling & Human Development at the University. Please visit its website or call 717-871-7821 for more information.