(THE PICKET)—A study by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University found that depression and anxiety are the most common mental heath problems among college students.
The recent study showed that more than half of the 100,000 students surveyed reported that they suffer from anxiety.
For Shepherd students like Elizabeth Knott, who is a nursing student, having her dog live with her on campus has improved her health.
“I’ve had my dog, Lily, with me on campus ever since I transferred here my sophomore year, so it’s been three years. The application process was really easy, you get a note through your doctor,” Knott said.
“I feel a lot better with Lily on campus. My health has actually gotten a lot better. My family noticed that I wasn’t well, and that was part of the reason that I transferred to a campus closer to home. The doctor noticed that when we got here my health got better, but when I was away from her it wasn’t. He was actually the one that suggested that suggested I bring Lily to college.”
According to Shepherd University’s Student Code of Conduct number 1609, animals are not permitted in student rooms or common areas but service animals to assist people with documented disabilities are allowed in residence halls.
If students were to bring unauthorized animals into dorm rooms, Residence Life will remove the animal immediately, which may include contacting the Humane Society or Animal Control at the resident’s cost.
Hayley Carrell, a student worker at Residence Life, said that to have a comfort animal you would do it through disabilities services.
“First you would get it approved by a doctor that the animal is for comfort,” Carrell said, “then you would turn in your paperwork into the disability support center, and after they approve your paperwork, they would then send it to us. After all that, we can then clear you to have an animal in the dorm.”
The New York Times published an article on Oct. 4 shining light on the use of comfort animals on college campuses.
The article highlights colleges and universities that, like Shepherd, are finding ways to accommodate students who need to live on campus with animals for therapeutic reasons.
Jamin Branch, 21, an RA at Shepherd, said that he likes the idea of having comfort animals in dorms.
“I think it’s great that students can have animals on campus. If they need that extra comfort then they should be allowed that right.”
According to the Active Minds website, a nonprofit organization designed to raise mental health awareness, suicide is the second leading cause of death in college students, outpacing deaths by alcohol-related causes. The site also says that suicide alone claims the lives of 1,100 students each year.