Growing awareness of the negative effects of trauma has led San Antonio, TX, school districts to expand efforts that can help mitigate these effects and support mental health. Given the literature around the psychological benefits of human-animal interactions, the concept of incorporating animals in treatments or interventions is not a new one. While schools have begun considering or utilizing animal-assisted interventions (AAIs), there have been limited efforts to understand existing perceptions relating to animals and AAIs among school parents in this Hispanic community. To address this gap, a cross-sectional study consisting of a 34-item survey was conducted to explore attitudes, knowledge, and perceptions relating to animals (i.e., pets), AAIs, and the need for supporting young children's mental health among parents. A total of 187 surveys from two school districts were completed and utilized for analysis. The study's findings demonstrate that parents acknowledged the importance of addressing mental health issues early on and were aware of the health benefits human-animal interactions can provide. Furthermore, parents had positive attitudes toward pets and positive perceptions toward AAIs in schools. Some implementation concerns were expressed relating to safety and well-being. Overall, these findings suggest there is existing parent support in using AAIs as a trauma-informed strategy and school innovation.
|Publication Title||Healthcare (Basel)|
|Author Address||School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.|
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