The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham has suggested that all schools should adopt a dog to help reduce student stress.
By Published on 24 Mar 2019
Sir Anthony Seldon made the comments during a talk at the Ultimate Wellbeing in Education Conference. He said:
"The quickest and biggest hit that we can make to improve mental health in our schools and to make them feel safe for children, is to have at least one dog in every single school in the country.”
"It's very easy to do, it's very cost-effective, the evidence is very clear that it works, and every single school - primary, secondary, special - should have dogs."
Rising stress levels
He went onto say that educational institutions have a duty of care towards the mental well-being of their students.
Sir Anthony has raised awareness about the growing numbers of students reporting mental health issues and argues for more education on the links between mental health and recreational drug use.
Some universities are already bringing pets onto campuses during exam time, which helps reduce student stress levels.
Damian Hinds, the education secretary, supports the idea of schools doing something similar. He told the BBC:
“First I was a bit surprised, but actually it's a great thing. For the kids, it can be really uplifting, particularly those that have different ways of expressing themselves and coming out of themselves - and the dog or the pets can really help."
School teachers have reported a significant increase in mental health issues among young children. Many believe that today kids are under more stress than ever before, pinpointing exam stress, fragmented family lives, and the pressures of social media as the main causes.
Petting a dog has been shown to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins. It also reduces cortisol, a hormone that's released in response to stressful situations.
Researchers found that students reported an immediate increase in well-being after a drop-in session with a therapy dog.