Sahuaro Participates in Mental Health Awarness Month with Puppies


Kasia Jackson, Editor

“Health is wealth”  – a commonly used cliche that happens to be a very true statement. During Mental Health Awareness Month,  the statement should be acknowledged.  On Thursday, May, 12th certified therapy dogs were brought in by volunteers for the students of Sahuaro to interact with, along with puzzles, coloring stations, and gratitude stations. There were copious options to aid students’ mental health before finals week, which we all know can be a roller coaster of emotions and can become detrimental to our mental state, making the puppies and the stations a big hit. Everyone, including myself, was elated at the fact that dogs were brought onto campus. It was the first time I had witnessed so many smiles on Sahuaro students’ faces.

There were three dogs: two Golden retrievers and a mini Golden Doodle. The dogs ranged from ages 3 to 7 years old with incredibly soft fur. Everyone who came to the library had a chance to pet and hug the dogs. Their purpose for bringing dogs into the school is explained by the school’s psychologist Ms. Hernandez: “Well, May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we’ve been through a lot, collectively and individually. This is a really good opportunity to celebrate all of our accomplishments and remind ourselves to take care of our well-being. It goes beyond physical health. Mental health is just as important. So we wanted to do something for the whole community, not just students, but staff, and everyone in between.”

When asked how exactly dogs help with mental illnesses Ms. Hernandez says, “There are countless studies that have even been done in hospital studies. So it’s not for mental health support, like emotional wise. Within that side of things, they’re shown to help encourage exercise. They help relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. They bring more connectedness and less loneliness. Some cool studies I saw are that they can help build endorphins and that relieves pain. It’s helped with cancer patients. It reduces the risk of heart attack. It has a lot of great benefits.”

Since the benefits of having a dog are so amazing, you would think that everyone should get a dog and she agrees to a certain point. “I would say if you’re responsible and you can care for another life 100%, it  can improve the quality of your own life and the life of the animal, but for now if you don’t even know if you want a dog, then go volunteer.”

The gratitude station allowed individuals to write words of gratitude to either themselves or friends and family. The coloring station offered group coloring where friends can color an art piece together. The puzzle stations were intriguing and group-oriented also. A nice way to decompress from all the excitement with the dogs.

This was an amazing experience and I give gratitude towards the Ms. Hernandez, the volunteers, interactive stations and the dogs for providing such an incredible day.

If anyone is looking for places to volunteer, Ms. Hernandez recommends TRN and it’s for older dogs that need to be adopted. You can go in, pet them, and spend time with them until they get adopted. Here are some pictures of the event: