June 27th has been designated PTSD awareness day across the U.S.A., aiming to educate the wider public on the realities of experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and on effective treatments for the disorder.
PTSD is a mental health condition that some may experience after trauma or after witnessing traumatic events. Symptoms can be complex and debilitating, including flashbacks, anxiety, and triggered emotional and physical responses.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults age 18 or older or about 9.5% of the U.S. population each year and each day.
Social stigma about mental illness may stop people from seeking help. However, it is important to remember that mental illness does not discriminate and is an absolutely valid health condition like any other physical illness. Opening up the conversation about mental health is a way to create an accepting environment to share stories and experiences.
Showing support on days like PTSD Awareness Day is a great way to be an ally.
Seeking help is the first step. Those affected by PTSD can be helped with proper counseling and mental health care, but it may be a long and difficult process. Service dogs may be trained to assist those with PTSD, and may support healing and recovery.
Since researching and filming our original documentary and our follow-up TV episode, Dogs Make A Difference, we’ve seen how dogs have an amazing ability to sense when a person is feeling anxious and needs extra attention.
The presence of dogs has been shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD such as high blood pressure, anxiety, and stress. Service dogs not only provide love and companionship, but may also give people a sense of purpose, responsibility, and routine.
Assistance Dogs like Flicka from National Service Dogs Canada have been trained to support their partner physically and emotionally.
We filmed Flicka and heard how she and other dogs at NSD are giving freedom and confidence back to those suffering from PTSD and other issues.
Operation K9 Care
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs predicts that 20% of post 9/11 veterans will experience PTSD. Bayer launched K9s for Warriors to help provide service dogs for veterans experiencing PTSD and those experiencing traumatic brain injuries.
The results have been astounding, with 66% of participants reporting improvements in their symptoms.
Operation K9 Care seeks to aid these vets with the costs associated with having a service animal. The program has partnered with veterinarians and pet retailers to provide free health services and goods to the dogs. This aims to provide relief from financial difficulties so those within the program may focus on healing instead. Read more about Operation K9 Care HERE.
K9s for Warriors
The non-profit group helps veterans with PTSD, sexual trauma and/or traumatic brain injury as a result of military service return to regular life using trained rescue or shelter dogs.
We love this initiative as it is giving both dogs and humans a new leash on life. It empowers veterans to live with dignity and independence.