An estimated 10% of youngsters in the UK have had an official diagnosis of a mental health condition. “The complexities of modern life add further cognitive strain and we are seeing a rise in these diagnoses,” says Professor Jo Williams from the University of Edinburgh. She has been researching the impact of pets on the mental health of children and adolescents; findings show pets can be used to help children with a wide range of conditions. “We have a resource within 70% of families that most people aren’t aware of,” says Jo, explaining the act of stroking a pet lowers your cortisol levels and reduces stress. “Children who have pets and are highly attached to them scored higher on quality of life and a whole range of other indicators of mental health. Pets are a kind of social glue.” Featuring in the video is Boomer, a Pets as Therapy dog who gives one-on-one therapy to dementia patients in Scotland.

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