Originally posted on Kmareka.com:
In my book, “Know Thyself: A Kid’s Guide to the Archetypes,” I recommend that children watch or play with animals in order to become more aware of the Innocent Archetype — the naturally curious part of our identity. Research into how animals affect our mental health is just in its infancy, but so far there are some compelling studies to suggest that animals can contribute to mental health on a number of levels and across a wide span of ages and mental health problems.
I have done some searching and reading, and here are some good resources on the growing body of evidence that pet ownership and spending time around animals has a positive correlation to physical and mental health.
From Australia, this paper talks about research showing animal-assisted therapy improving mental health for elderly people in nursing homes as well as children diagnosed with ADHD. It also points out that because of financial hardship, pet ownership for some people has become more difficult. It reports that pet ownership was on the decline in Australia due to increased renting and decreasing owning of homes.