Bondi View

Not dogged by depression

Owning a pet, including a retired racing greyhound, reduces the likelihood of depression. Photo: Alec Smart

By VANESSA LIM

NBCUniversal in Sydney were surprised with furry friends on R U OK? Day – the annual event created by a suicide prevention charity in Australia to remind people that having meaningful conversations with friends and loved ones could save lives – highlighting the importance of mental health and the benefits of pet adoption.

Sydney’s NBCUniversal, an international media and entertainment group, surprised their staff with some fur therapy as adorable dogs from Greyhound Rescue paid them a visit to spread love and cheer on R U OK? Day.
A spokesperson from NBCUniversal said, “The initiative, which was facilitated by national animal welfare charity, PetRescue, was held in an effort to promote the connection between positive mental health, pet ownership, and the joys of pet adoption.”

Mental illness common but treatable
One in five Australians aged from 16 to 85 years of age suffer from mental illness in any given year, making it important to be aware, but also to receive treatment. According to the Australian Institute of Health, 54% of people don’t have access to any treatment.
Factors that affect this are income, environment and the lack of resources given to the mental health sector.

Studies have shown that interacting with pets can boost serotonin and dopamine, which can relax those with mental illness and pet owners are less likely on average to suffer from depression. Sydney’s NBCUniversal could be a role model for more positive initiatives to benefit a work environment.
“The team from NBCUniversal had a ball meeting the amazing volunteers from Greyhound Rescue and of course the stars of the day, the beautiful greyhounds. They were certainly a hit and it was great to have Nat provide an insight into the breed and ways in which we can get involved,” said Nathan Dann, Senior National Publicist, Universal Pictures International Australasia.

They highlighted the importance of getting involved with greyhound adoption or volunteering. Greyhound dogs are one of the most vulnerable dogs due to unethical breeding or training tactics, which has led up to 17,000 healthy greyhounds dying unnecessarily in Australia within one year.
Greyhounds deserve attention just like people with mental illnesses, and while adopting or interacting with pets won’t fix mental illness, it can help two important issues get better.

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