Chickens, often associated with farmyards, fresh eggs, and Sunday dinners, are now gaining recognition for their surprising role in boosting mental health.
Their presence and interactions with humans have been shown to have therapeutic benefits, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Whether as therapy animals in clinical settings or as cherished pets in households, chickens are proving to be more than just feathered friends.
They contribute to improved mental well-being, offering comfort and solace in our increasingly complex world.
Furry Tales Chickens Visits Care Homes
In 2013, Ione Maria Rojas founded “Furry Tales” in London to help Care Home residents.
She got the idea while volunteering at Stephney Farm in London.
She volunteered for her own mental health and to interact with the animals, which later sparked her project.
She was already interested in helping the elderly and had volunteered her time to put on painting workshops within several care homes.
She first began by taking in a few small animals, bantam chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs, and her organization grew from there.
Ione said the residents smiled, and many had raised chickens earlier in their lifetimes, making them welcomed and instantly beloved visitors.
The chickens were incredibly patient and happy to visit with residents because of their upbringing on the Stephney Farm.
Volunteers and visitors handle them from day one of life, so they’re raised to love people and seek their attention naturally.
Two years after starting her project, Ione Rojas visited many animal therapy centers in the United States.
Here, she pulled lots of ideas and inspiration from these centers and decided to implement them back in London.
She immediately began working on these ideas upon her arrival home.
Two years after her visit to the States, her coworkers, Jane and Merlin, took responsibility for Furry Tales.
They facilitated the program’s expansion, and now Furry Tales visits sheltered housing, dementia wards, residential homes, hospitals, more care homes, and hospitals.
They also see many independently living seniors who appreciate the extra company.
The Farm has also recently opened itself up to Friday visits, so people may stop in during the afternoon to greet and interact with the animals and their volunteers.
A charity called HenPower was established in 2011, also in England, though it is not associated with Furry Tales.
Here, this organization encourages seniors to adopt hens.
This gives older people a reliable source of companionship, and the hens are often rescue animals who desperately need a home.
This non-profit “hengages” older people in arts and hen-keeping to promote health and reduce loneliness.
They’re in 40 care homes now and growing.
Northumbria University studied HenPower for twelve months and found that the organization measurably improved the health and well-being of older people while reducing their loneliness and depression.
Criminal Rehabilitation in Scotland and England
Therapy chickens also serve as a means of prisoner rehabilitation.
Take, for instance, The State Hospital in Scotland, where 75 percent of patients grapple with schizophrenia and where chickens freely roam the animal garden.
Patients treat these animals with utmost kindness and compassion.
The animals offer non-judgmental companionship, making these sessions the first positive relationships some offenders experience, potentially paving the way for new, positive attitudes and successful rehabilitation.
This therapeutic intervention is both soothing and beneficial to their overall well-being.
Similarly, at Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside, England, where dangerous criminals are cared for, therapy chickens are crucial in helping individuals manage a wide spectrum of mental health challenges.
Consider the case of Chris, a patient who, while in prison, engaged in self-harm and contemplated suicide.
He told a BBC reporter: “I look after the chickens. I enjoy it. It’s therapeutic. It helps me. It’s good to get off the ward and forget about where I am.”
In conclusion, chickens have proven to be unlikely yet effective companions in the battle against loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
They give people a meaningful chore and a reason to get up daily.
Their non-judgmental and affectionate nature provides solace and connection to individuals, especially in therapeutic settings, where loneliness often prevails.
Whether as therapy animals in healthcare facilities, rehabilitative tools for prisoners, or kept as beloved pets, chickens offer a unique form of companionship that dispels isolation and promotes emotional well-being.
These feathered friends serve as a reminder that even the most unexpected companions can make a significant impact in our lives, offering comfort and companionship that helps to alleviate loneliness.
Are you interested in keeping a few chickens for your mental health?
Check the articles below to get you started!