WICHITA, KS- Anxiety, followed closely by depression, has become a growing diagnosis among college students in the last few years.
“I have been the most relaxed I’ve ever been on campus with him here,” Haylee Votipka stated.
But it wasn’t always that way for Votipka, a sophomore at Newman University.
“Weekends started to hit and I would just swing really low. I would be alone in my room, or my roommates would be gone and I’d be alone in the dorm,” recalled Haylee Votipka.
Haylee was eventually diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and severe anxiety. She didn’t like the thought of more medication, so after months of research, doctors found one thing that could manage the illness, and his name is Peetta.
“He’s my baby, essentially. It’s just something about the contact and the sensory of knowing that he’s here,” Votipka explained.
According to Mike Austin, the Provost at Newman University, pets are not allowed on campus, unless a student requires a service animal. But he felt that Votipka had a strong case.
“A comfort animal is something a little bit different because there isn’t a specific training to a specific task, but the research does show that comfort animals can be important for people’s emotional and psychological well-being,” Austin stated.
“There are some people who will say, ya know, ‘You’re over-reacting. You don’t need this. This is just an excuse. You just want to have your dog at school.’ And I can see where this can be taken advantage of and people can try to do this, but I do have a problem,” said Votipka.
And although it’s not the norm yet, students like Votipka are thankful to be the exception.