Service Dogs Available for Mental Health Assistance

Last week I cited Dr. Deborah Serani‘s blog post about Jessie Close, who has bipolar disorder, in which Close reveals that she is one of the many who use psychiatric service dogs (PSD’s). Her PSD is named Snitz (do ya love the name? I’m thinking it’s like “snits”? like having fits of agitation?).

About Snitz, she states, “…(S)he’s perfect!…She is a tiny girl but is warm and soft and very understanding. She is half miniature Chihuahua, one quarter Rat Terrier and one quarter Yorkie Terrier. I think that sometimes she’s comforting because she gets nervous so I concentrate on her instead of me. When I speak she is the best tool I have. I think sometimes the audience watches Snitz and can’t help but hear me.  When I’m finished speaking people come up to me but are sometimes too shy to talk to me or don’t want to reveal anything about themselves. I’ve watched them approach Snitz, because she’s safe, and pat her. Then they begin speaking to me about themselves. It works. She is a good psychologist.”

Close is referring above to her public speaking gigs for Bring Change 2 Mind, an organization co-founded by sister Glenn Close to combat mental health stigma.

The website of The Psychiatric Service Dog Society states that service dogs can be helpful to those with various types of severe psychiatric disabilities “by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.”

Just some of the tasks psychiatric service dogs can help their handlers with:

  • medication reminders
  • management of crowds
  • dealing with public accommodations
  • orienting during a panic attack
  • wake-ups for school or work

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