Launceston’s Stephen Banfield takes his dog Emma to work with him everyday and wouldn’t have it any other way.
A gardener, Mr Banfield said his one-year-old Maltese shih-tzu Emma was essential to his happiness and came with him on every job, no matter what.
“I don’t take jobs unless I can bring the dog with me,” he said.
“She comes with me everywhere and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s my life – she’s just it.”
Research by Sydney clinical psychologist Dr Leigh Plummer, in partnership with PetSafe Australia, recently identified five ways that owning a pet could have a positive impact on people living with mental health conditions.
They included increasing physical activity, social interaction, companionship, providing routine and purpose and reducing fear and anxiety.
With one in five Australians experiencing a mental illness each year, Dr Plummer said there were many benefits to owning a pet.
“Experiencing a mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, can be a daily battle,” he said.
“There is some research showing that owning and caring for a pet can help to support your mental health by improving social, emotional and physical wellbeing.
“The unconditional love that a pet can give you is often a relief to those that have difficulty interaction with others or have low self-esteem.
“Having a pet can absolutely increase your social interactions be it through social media or face to face.
“It’s not only what our pets do for us, it is also the act of caring for a pet that helps us to feel good.”
Dr Plummer said giving and caring for others provides feelings of productiveness, rewarding, usefulness and needed.
“Caring for a pet may also temporarily take the focus off ourselves, our worries and negative thoughts,” he said.
Mr Banfield said he tried not to go anywhere without Emma.
“Her loyalty means the world to me,” he said.
“I am lucky that I am in a job where I can take my dog to work with me,” he said.
“I couldn’t do it without her.
“She is happy to sit there with me while I get the work done.”
- For mental health support and guidance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.