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Baruch needs a therapy dog

Alejandro Mallea | Flickr

Baruch College students face a variety of pressures — many students balance jobs, family responsibilities and extracurricular commitments. Baruch needs to do more to support its students’ mental health and one step they can take is to add a therapy dog to the Counseling Center’s staff.

A survey reported by the Counseling Center in 2023 found that 45% of the 1,300 respondents scored positive for moderate to major depression, 37% for anxiety and 19% reported self-injurious behavior.

Currently, there are only two full-time counselors on staff, The Ticker reported. Four part-time counselors work a combined total of just 20 hours a week and three part-time psychiatric specialists provide medication care.

While adding a therapy dog is not a replacement for the additional staff needed in the Counseling Center, it is one step toward helping students in need of support.

A study by PLOS One found that twice-weekly sessions with a dog and its handler significantly lowered children’s levels of cortisol — the body’s stress hormone — which they measured through saliva samples. It was shown to be more effective than guided relaxation sessions.

The Counseling Center hosted an event with a therapy dog on March 5 in the William and Anita Newman Vertical Campus Multipurpose Room.

“Pet therapy can create enhanced self-esteem, improve relationships, create a more positive environment, and give a sense of purpose,” the Counseling Center said in an advertisement for the event.

Other institutions have hired therapy dogs into their departments, such as the University of Southern California’s student health center, Yale Law School’s library therapy dog and Nazareth College has faculty-handled campus-integrated therapy dogs. Baruch should seek to implement a similar program.

A therapy dog could reside in a separate office so that students with allergies are not impacted.

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