PIPPIN THE UNIVERSITY THERAPY DOG
University therapy dog, Pippin, outside the Plymouth Marjon Chaplaincy.
Lecturers have you on a tight leash? Flatmates barking you up the wrong tree? After a ‘ruff’ week at university, Pippin, the four year old Golden Labrador is sure to have you ‘pup’ and running in no time! Plymouth Marjon University is home to Pippin, who resides in the campus Chaplaincy, working to improve student mental health and combat home-sickness for those living away from home.
When Pippin arrives at the University each Wednesday, the students at Marjon dote on the canine, giving her lots of attention and treats. She gives back with cuddles and her company which can be a real comfort for students suffering with loneliness, and can even help with meeting new people, with many students gathering to visit her every week. The Chaplaincy says she has a “lovely temperament” and has a “way to connect with students”.
“It’s really beneficial to go and visit Pippin, to unwind and get away from the many stresses of uni life. The Chaplaincy provides a homely space to escape the chaos of campus, which makes seeing Pippin a vital part of my week”, Alfie, 18, A first year student at Marjon University.
Pippin and I, in the Chaplaincy at Plymouth Marjon University.
Aiding student mental health has been especially important in recent years, it is vital that Universities accommodate support and guidance for students in any way possible. Each individual will experience University life differently, but there is no doubt that it can put a strain on your stress-levels. Mental Health.org has revealed that “In 2015/16, over 15,000 first-year students in UK universities reported that they had a mental health problem, compared to approximately 3,000 in 2006.” demonstrating a vast incline of mental health related problems in students within the last decade.
Sofia from Plymouth University tells me about her experience with mental health at university. “I think they (universities) could do more to make it more accessible to everyone, so universities could ensure that everybody knows how to get an appointment, instead of just putting up posters. Even trying to get a doctors appointment is confusing which makes me not bother to go”
It is a proven fact that being around pets can reduce your stress hormones, depression, anxiety and ease loneliness, all of which are prevalent mental health conditions seen in first year university students. Dogs can give an immediate sense of companionship and have a therapeutic effect that can boost your mood, and make you feel more comforted and secure. Having Pippin around for students has had a major effect on the students at Marjon University, and they are all very thankful for the help the Chaplaincy and university are providing. It is so important for all educational institutes to try new methods of support for students as all students will experience stress, in some form, throughout their time at school or university.