In light of Mental Health Week at Collarts, no secret that pets can bring us an overwhelming amount of joy. Whether it's laughing at a viral cat on TikTok, cuddling up to your pet on the couch or asking to pat a strangers dog, there's something innately wholesome about connecting with an animal who wants nothing else but to be loved.
When you consider this emotional reaction, it actually makes a whole lot of sense that spending time with a pet benefits our health. Often dubbed The Pet Effect, studies have found that interacting with pets can reduce stress and provide companionship, boosting many aspects of our mental and physical health. From slowing down our heart rates, preventing heart disease, aiding depression and giving us a sense of purpose, interacting with a pet is a mood booster that strengthens both body and mind.
But of course, not everyone has ready access to a pet or has ability to take on responsible pet ownership—so what do you do when having your own pet or fostering isn't an option?
Volunteering for your local animal shelter is one of the many ways you can not only boost your mental health, but support your community too. In Victoria alone, there are many animal rescues with to-be pets who need walks, human interaction and some time to experience the world.
"We are always looking for new volunteers to join our rescue family and help us continue our important work for the animals," shares Second Chance Animal Rescue. "New shelter and event volunteers, administration helpers, drivers and foster carers are always needed to help us with our important behind the scenes tasks."
And the best thing? Putting your name forward to volunteer is easier than you think—you just need to know how to apply and what you want to commit to. So we've made it easy and have a listed a few rescues in Melbourne who are always looking for help and encourage you to get in touch, pat a cat or walk a dog; not only for your own happiness, but theirs too.