A recent UK survey conducted by Young Minds found that more than 20% of children reported having persistent stress, either every day or most days. Of those with a history of mental health needs, around 80% have reported their condition worsening due to the pandemic.
As part of Nene Park Academy's commitment to supporting the mental health of students, a new therapy dog - called Luna - has been brought into the school.
A number of research studies have shown the benefits of therapy dogs within a school environment. It is thought that a therapy dog in a classroom can reduce stress and provide a sense of connection in difficult situations.
Dogs can provide stability and comfort to children who are going through challenging periods and offer an enriching experience to help manage and deal with their mental health.
Nene Park Academy principal Robin Grover said: "We are very excited to welcome Luna to our school community. After such a challenging year, it has been important for us to focus our attention on ways we can further support our students' mental health and wellbeing.
"Our students' mental health is important and we believe it is vital for us to take a lead on reducing the number of young people struggling with anxiety and mental health difficulties. We hope Luna can have a really positive impact on our students’ wellbeing and as a result, on their education.
"We have worked closely with other schools within our Trust who have already successfully introduced therapy dogs, to ensure we can develop the best practice possible and cannot wait to see the difference she will make."
Luna's handler, Laura Oxley, is the leading specialist for the academy's autism provision hub and will be training Luna to become a fully qualified Pet Therapy Dog to support all students in the academy.