Therapy dogs help UConn students relax during finals week

Therapy dogs help UConn students receive stress during finals week
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 6:55 PM EDT
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STORRS, CT (WFSB) - It is finals week at the University of Connecticut and students are no doubt stressed.

“It’s definitely very stressful,” sophomore Justin Karpel said. “It takes a lot out of you.”

Karpel is in the same boat as many college students this week. He has multiple final exams on the calendar and he’s starting to feel the heat.

“(I’m) spending like eight hours a day in the library just doing nothing but reviewing stuff,” Karpel said.

With mental health at the top of mind for many, UConn is upping its game. The university if offering more mental health resources to students: including therapy dogs.

“Being able to pet the dog gives them a little bit of home comfort while they get ready for finals and the stress of the times,” Therapy Dog Mica Handler Susan Glenney said.

Mica and other therapy dogs are spending hours at the Homer Babbidge Library at the UConn Storrs Campus to help students with a little stress relief. Mica specializes in college-aged students.

“Everyone loves petting the dog,” Karpel said. “It relieves a lot of stress, it’s just amazing.”

Experts say for young people especially, it’s important to know how you best handle stress and what works for you to deal with it.

“Slow their mind down, slow their body down, take a nap if they need to, eat something reasonably healthy for themselves, go for a walk outside, do something to help yourself,” Hartford Healthcare Clinical Psychologist Dr. Laura Saunders said.

Mental health help looks different for everyone, Saunders said.

For fifth-year Jake Winter, it’s all about taking a break.

“Exercise, meditation, taking breaks, I don’t think I take enough breaks,” Winter said. “Taking that five or ten minutes to unwind and relax is really important.”

For Karpel, it’s more social time.

“Hanging with friends, we’ll watching a show or a movie, go outside, go for a quick walk to try and take your mind off of all of it,” Karpel said.

With less of a stigma about mental health nowadays, students say it’s easier to talk about their stress this week.

“It’s a lot easier to have moments of weakness here,” Winter said.