The first floor atrium of the Harold B. Lee Library flooded with students waiting for their chance to pet a dog on March 9.
Therapy dogs from Therapy Animals for Utah came to BYU in an event to promote mental illness awareness on campus. The event was put on in connection with the Campaign for Change.
BYU’s Bateman team runs the Campaign for Change as part of a national PRSSA competition.
Executive Director of Therapy Animals for Utah Deborah Carr said interacting with therapy dogs helps relieve stress.
“The research shows that when you work with an animal … your brain starts to secrete oxytocin, which is a really powerful hormone,” Carr said. “It makes you feel capable of doing really hard things.”
She said the best part of her job is seeing people smile as they interact with the dogs.
Senecca Ellsworth, a pre-nursing student and dog lover, said the event was a good way to promote mental health.
“This kind of event should be done more often,” Ellsworth said.
This event was a great way for students to de-stress and learn more about recognizing the signs of people who are struggling, according to Bateman team member Ashley Frost.
“You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to care about mental health,” Frost said.
The goal of this event and campaign is to help students know the five signs of emotional suffering, according to Katie Rhoton, another student working on the campaign.
The five signs of emotional suffering are: personality change, agitated, withdrawal, poor self-care and hopelessness, according to the Bateman team.
Students who came to see the therapy dogs had the opportunity to pledge to know the five signs and share them with someone else.
The Bateman team is also promoting mental health through other events and activities, including an FHE lesson plan geared toward discussing mental illness, according to Rhoton.
To learn more about the five signs of emotional suffering or the Campaign for Change, visit their website.