Study finds first scientific evidence that emotional support animals benefit those with chronic mental illness

A team led by a social work researcher at The University of Toledo has published the first empirical evidence that emotional support animals can provide quantifiable benefits to individuals with serious mental illness who are experiencing depression, anxiety and loneliness.

The research brings credence to the many anecdotal reports of emotional support animals having positive impacts on chronic mental health issues.
"This is the first peer-reviewed, published scientific evidence that emotional support animals may benefit people's mental health," said Dr. Janet Hoy-Gerlach, a professor of social work and the lead investigator on the project. "My hope is that our pilot study catalyzes additional research in this area with more rigorous methodology."

Frequently misunderstood and often maligned, emotional support animals are neither household pets nor highly trained service animals.

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