Hope and Recovery Pets has been doing incredible work for years in providing assistance to those with mental illness through pairing them with animals to love. HARP itself is a collaboration between the Toledo Humane Society and ProMedica, aimed at relieving the costs of pet care and adoption for those with mental illnesses that might be benefited by animal companionship.
Today the organization helps thousands of people and pets, by pairing them and covering all the costs of adoption, veterinary care, food, grooming, and other pet expenses. This has helped the cause blossom into not only a cause for good that provides joy and healing, but also into an invaluable source of medical data. After years of demonstrating positive outcomes from increased human-animal interaction, the world of mental health medicine has gained invaluable information about the social and psychological benefits of animal companionship.
What are the benefits of animal interaction? The major improvements come in the form of reducing anxiety, alleviating depression, providing self-care motivation, and other psychologically therapeutic outcomes. In fact, no current HARP patients have experienced a psychiatric hospitalization after adoption. As incredible as that is, it’s not the only breakthrough the program provides. There’s strong evidence that pet adoption also brings with it a long list of social benefits that aren’t always immediately apparent. Patients are less lonely, and have an easier time relating to others and making new friends, after adopting a pet.
HARP is changing both human and animal lives for the better. But the most inspiring thing of all might be what their results mean for the future. The better we understand the relationship between human-animal relationships and mental illness, the closer we’ll be to a world where mental illness means less stigma, and less suffering, than today.