Puppy therapy provides barking mad stress relief for students

Stressed-out students in Aberdeen will be treated to puppy therapy in a bid to reduce mental health issues during exam periods.

Aberdeen University's Exam Welfare Initiative, which was introduced last year by the Aberdeen University Students’ Association (AUSA), will now team up with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to deliver the new scheme.

After piloting the event last semester, a further four dates have been planned during the peak study period this year, on May 13, 17, 21 and 23.

President for education and employability at AUSA, Josefine Björkqvist, said: "The exam period can be very stressful for students here and we want to help to promote a healthy outlet for young people during this time.

"The last puppy therapy event was very successful. We had three Golden Retrievers and Labradors that were in a puppy room at the university. People just came along to pat and cuddle them - you could see it chilled them out so quickly.

"Puppies are cute and affectionate and I think it helps to distract from studying for a short period. We are really looking forward to having the puppies back again."

The barking mad initiative was first piloted in US universities, where it was so successful that both Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School have resident therapy dogs in their libraries that can be borrowed just like a book.

Josephine added: "Students struggle with so many worries in life - financial, emotional and physical and we are concerned for their well being.

"The libraries here report a 150% increase in the number of people using the facilities in the run up to exams so we know that students are buckling down and working hard and they need some light relief.

"This year we’re giving out exam welfare packs to students, including water bottles, fruit, snack bars, muffins and study tips. We are also providing free tea and coffee for students before their exams as well as smoothies to encourage healthy eating."

Aberdeen University will be running a Healthy Body and Healthy Mind programme through the sport and exercise team which include massages, yoga taster sessions and exercise classes for students in halls.

To find out more about the schemes, contact AUSA online.

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