Adopting a pet can not only reduce stress but also benefit those suffering from mental health problems, a study has found.
There is increasing recognition of the therapeutic function pets can play in relation to mental health.
However, there has been no systematic review of the evidence related to the comprehensive role of companion animals and how pets might contribute to the work associated with managing a long-term mental health condition.
The study, published in the journal BMC Psychiatry, aimed to explore the extent, nature and quality of the evidence implicating the role and utility of pet ownership for people living with a mental health condition.
Researchers at University of Liverpool in the UK systematically reviewed 17 international research papers, to identify the positive, negative and neutral impacts of pet ownership.
The study highlighted the 'intensiveness' of connectivity people with companion animals reported, and the multi-faceted ways in which pets contributed to the work associated with managing a mental health condition, particularly in times of crisis.
The negative aspects of pet ownership were also highlighted, including the practical and emotional burden of pet ownership and the psychological impact that losing a pet has.