By: Crystal Mutilitis, Clinician
On Friday, October 15th, 2021, Tricia Baker, Attitudes in Reverse (AIR) Co-Founder, visited Pathways at Carteret High School with her two adorable therapy dogs. Attitudes in Reverse is a 100% volunteer-driven 501c3 non-profit organization, and its mission is to save lives through mental health and suicide prevention education. Mrs. Baker has devoted her time and energy to destigmatizing mental health struggles with a consistent message encouraging individuals to ask for help.
AIR creates a community of understanding, kindness, and empathy while offering many programs that remind students throughout that there are many people, sometimes their friends, family members, or classmates, who may be living each day with mental health disorders. One of the incredible services AIR offers is animal therapy, with dogs trained and certified as animal therapy service animals.
Research shows the simple act of petting a dog releases good de-stressing brain chemicals. Interacting with a dog lowers our cortisol stress level. During lunch periods on October 15th, CHS students were invited to go to Pathways to spend time de-stressing with Mrs. Baker's therapy dogs and learn about the importance of mental health and asking for help when needed. Students' calmness with the dogs present was a topic of discussion as Mrs. Baker explained the benefits of animal therapy and described the processes by which dogs help to calm anxieties and relieve depressive symptoms.
Students were excited to learn that AIR volunteers and their dogs will be visiting Pathways during lunch periods once a month for the next few months. We will continue the discussion around mental health and remind one another about the importance of destigmatizing mental health issues.