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Working with animals can help people with mental illnesses to perceive themselves anew. A chicken farm with changing locations in the Swabian town of Ravensburg is said to give mentally ill people hope for a fulfilling life.
Hope for a fulfilled life Can chickens have a therapeutic effect? A new project in Ravensburg, Swabia, gives people with a mental illness hope for a fulfilling life by working with animals. The mobile stall of the local Riesenhof nursery changes its location every few weeks. The nursery belongs to the social psychiatric help of the Bruderhaus Diakonie. Gardening and production manager Andreas Gronmaier says: "You can get involved in your work, have an identification with your task, with nature and of course with the chickens and the eggs produced."
Mobile farm without factory farming The company employees take care of the animals, collect eggs, keep the chicken coop clean and take care of the move. "The chickens crush and peck the meadow, the accumulated droppings are long-term from a hygienic point of view," said Gronmaier. Therefore, the chickens are brought to a different location every two weeks in good weather and even weekly in winter or in the event of continuous rain. "This way, the chickens can always look forward to fresh grass." In contrast to factory farming, the mobile farm is manageable and only houses seven animals.
Introducing the mentally ill to a daily structure "The need to take care of the animals has an elementary and immediately understandable attraction," explained Michael Ziegelmayer from the Professional Association of German Psychologists. “You are needed, you have responsibility. There is no need for complicated mediation or good arguments, the necessity is immediately clear. ”There are around 40 rehabilitation facilities in Germany that want to lead mentally ill people in training or employment, ideally on the first job market. "In any case, it is important to introduce the sick to a daily structure and to integrate them into a good social context," said Ziegelmayer. "Knowing that one is dependent on the other has an immediate prompt character, in contrast to abstract stimuli, which are all about making money or that a machine should be operated."
Not all mental illnesses are comparable. Working with animals is still rare in the area of work with people with mental disabilities, but is particularly motivating, says the managing director of the mentally ill action in Bonn, Ulrich Krüger. When it comes to rehabilitation, there are no panaceas, but tailored solutions are required. What is important is the right form of activity and the right amount of stress, but also finding the right environment for the patient: "You have to get rid of the idea that all mental illnesses are comparable."
More than one in three Europeans affected The importance of different therapeutic approaches for the mentally ill is also clear when you see how many people are affected. A study by the Technical University of Dresden (TU) three years ago showed that about 38 percent of Europeans suffered from a mental illness such as anxiety disorders, alcohol habit, attention deficit disorder (ADHD) or depression within one year. It was striking that mental disorders at all ages are similarly common and widespread even among children and young adults. All 514 million inhabitants of the 27 EU countries as well as the states of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland were included in the three-year work and over 100 different psychological and neurological diseases were taken into account. (ad)
Image: schemmi / pixelio.de