Our Maynooth University correspondent, Laura Mulqueen, examines the Please Talk initiative where they bring puppies to various colleges in the hope to relieve student's stress.

Please Talk is an organization that was founded in 2007 to help students bereaved by suicide. They work in conjunction with the Health Service Executive through the National Office of Suicide Prevention. The organisation aims to promote talking and seeking help in times of trouble among students. For the past few years Please Talk have been working their way to most college campuses across Ireland to spread awareness of their work.

One way in which Please Talk promotes a healthy mind set for students is by organizing for puppies to visit colleges during stressful periods, such as exam time. Pets are renowned for being excellent companions and a great source of comfort at difficult times. Having an animal to cuddle can be just what you need if there is a stressful situation at college or if you are worried about an assignment. At college, many students don’t live at home and are not permitted pets. Living apart from your pet can lead to a lot of stress and loneliness.

There is a reason that Alzheimer patients are advised to have a pet. Studies have shown that sufferers have less anxiety attacks than patients who do not have a pet. Similarly with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism, owning a pet or being around animals has shown to have a calming effect on people. 

Síona Cahill, Maynooth Student Unions Welfare Officer, is delighted with the increase in positive feeling that Please Talk have brought to Maynooth campus. "In a manic student schedule, it can be really difficult to just sit down and have some time to yourself to think and just breathe. The puppies were wonderful in relaxing loads of students who got to see and hold them, and people left with giant smiley heads on them.”

“MSU Welfare crew ran the day in association with the college mental health society, and we like to promote any initiative that we can on campus at getting a good positive vibe for stressed student lives," she added.

Speaking from personal experience, puppy rooms are one of the most stress relieving ideas I have experienced. My week was made after walking into my student union and getting to sit on a bean bag and cuddle a little, warm puppy for a quarter of an hour. The puppy I was given called Cooper just slept on my lap the whole time. Just taking care of something else besides yourself that is separate from college was the best thing ever.

According to studies by Dr.Uvnas-Moberg from Uppsala University in Sweden,  cuddles with someone you enjoy cuddling with, releases serotonin (a feel happy hormone) and if you form a bond with a pet it is the same kind of bond you feel with anyone you love,  since it is oxytocin based (human love chemical). So when holding a pet it is the same form of bond you get by being around a partner or someone who is emotionally close to you. This can happen in the form of hugs, cuddles, kisses or physical contact.

Check out if this brilliant organisation will be coming to your campus at any point during the academic year. If they do, visit them and see how amazing you feel after having hugs and cuddles with a puppy.