The sounds of the Fullerton quad are quite familiar to most: the rustle of papers, hurried footfalls signaling a tardy student, the occasional clack of the remiss skateboarder cruising by. However, this past Wednesday the familiar sounds were punctuated with dogs barking.
A crowd of students were imbued by dogs of several shapes and sizes, wiggling and barking excitedly at the attention. Each dog was adorned with a blue vest with the words “Therapy Dog” emblazoned in bold lettering.
The dogs were in attendance as part of campaign to bring awareness to mental health, sponsored by Grads to Be. The organization primarily provides support to undocumented students, but the awareness events had a broadened focus to the entire student body.
“The events are for bringing awareness to mental health and that overall health involves not just physical, but mental as well,” said Daisy Kim, an intern with Grads to Be.
In the most recent report by the American College Health Association, they found that a high number of students reported feelings of being overwhelmed or exhaustion over a 12-month period. To compound those statistics, nearly 50% of students reported feelings of hopelessness, and over 30% felt that they were so depressed that “it was difficult to function.”
The report offers further evidence that mental health plays an important role in the academic success of college students. More than half of the students interviewed noted an academic impact stemming from anxiety and stress, as opposed to physical ailments which totaled less than 20%. From what is gathered in the findings, happier students leads to better overall learning outcomes.
The therapy dogs seemed to grant a brief intermission for weary and overwhelmed students, however, smiles and joyful laughter were in abundance.
“Whenever I see dogs, I am destressed,” said student Melody Woods, as she was petting an exceptionally fluffy white-haired dog.
“Honestly the minute I came here, my thoughts about my studies, my stress, all gone. I wish the dogs were here every day” echoed student Jacklyn Yeo.
“This specific grant was for May, which is the Mental Health Awareness month, but we will try to bring them also towards the middle of the semester. I think bringing these awesome puppies during any time during the semester would be great,” said Kim.