Therapy dogs brighten students’ day on Ped Walkway

The Health and Wellness Committee hosted Stamp Out the Stigma in order to promote Mental Health Awareness Week by bringing therapy dogs to Ped Walkway.

Therapy dogs are just what University of Tennessee students need as they go through the midterm season. On Oct. 11, the director of Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee, Karen Armsey, brought therapy dogs to Ped Walkway for students to de-stress.

HABIT, Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee, is an outreach program for the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine,” Armsey, also a 15-year volunteer with HABIT, said.

The Health and Wellness Committee, of the Student Government Association, brought in the HABIT dogs as a part of the Stamp Out the Stigma event for Mental Health Awareness Week.

“The mere presence of an animal, and that’s any animal, can lower the blood pressure and lower stress hormones. And it just kind of brings you back to the moment,” she said. “Instead of worrying about what is happening next or reminiscing about something that has happened in the past, you think about what is going on right now.”

Members set up a booth where students could address fears and mental health issues with members of the committee. At the event, wristbands were passed out with 947-HELP, a campus resource to assist Vols in distress.

“Mental Health is a very wide issue on this campus that hasn’t been addressed very well. Our mission is to spread awareness,” Katherine Winfield, Health and Wellness Committee member, said. 

Students that came found the dogs to be effective and friendly faces during stressful times.

“It gives me so much joy to be around another animal that I don’t get to see very often,” Haleigh Henry, a student participating in the event, said.

If a student finds a fellow Vol or themselves in distress, they are encouraged to contact the student helpline or schedule an appointment with the UT Counseling Center.

Edited by Grace Goodacre and Ainsley Kelso

Featured image by Madison Adkins