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Mental Health Awareness Week: A Girl’s Best Friend - Sophie & Willow

Nicola Withers
May 20, 2020

The 18th – 24th May is Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 UK. There is probably more focus right now than ever before on mental health and concerns that mental health issues will rise following the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, there has been a lot of focus on the importance of pets for companionship (especially for front-line NHS workers) and, dogs, in particular, to increase our daily exercise.

A recent article in The Guardian explains how dogs can improve our mental health.

We know all you pawrents are devoted doggy fans and appreciate how much richer your lives are with your woofs in them. Some of you have had dogs all your lives and some have found your new best furry friends more recently.

And with Mental Health Awareness Week upon us we thought it a good idea to spotlight just how beneficial our four-legged friends can be for our mental health and wellbeing and maybe inspire you if you are struggling with life in lockdown with some mental health awareness ideas.

Read on below to see how someone dear to our heart dealt with and overcame her own mental health issues.

Sophie & Willow have some great insight on Mental Health Awareness Week

Sophie and Willow have some great insight on Mental Health Awareness WeekSophie Davis and her dog Willow

So we spoke to one of Billy + Margot’s brand ambassadors Sophie Davis about her relationship with her woof, Willow, why they have an extra special bond, and her insight on the question a lot of people ask, "what is mental health awareness week?", and what it means to her.

Why did you get a dog in the first place?
“I suffered with my mental health and in 2018, I was admitted to hospital. After a short stay, I returned home but found life very difficult. I couldn’t talk or interact with anyone and didn’t seem to be getting any better. My family convinced me to get a dog as they thought that might assist with my recovery.

My step mum located a litter of cockerpoo puppies and, in August, we found Willow. From day one we were inseparable. Willow became my shadow and followed me around everywhere.

Just a month later, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, which meant leaving Willow behind. I was heartbroken. Willow was allowed to visit every weekend and my mum says she would get more and more excited as the car got nearer to the hospital.

As time went on, I found myself wanting to improve and get better so I would be able to take Willow out on her weekend visits."

Sophie and Willow With Benyfit Natural Managing Director Greg Van PraaghSophie and Willow With Benyfit Natural Managing Director Greg Van Praagh

Sophie continues, "I spent more than seven months in hospital dealing with my mental health issues. On my first home leave, we went to DogFest South with my family. On the spur of the moment, I entered Willow and she won Coolest Pup and Best in Show. That was a highlight for me. We also met the Benyfit Natural and Billy + Margot team, and Willow was more than happy to become a brand ambassador in exchange for some tasty food!”

How much does Willow mean to you?
“She literally has been a lifeline. Every single day I get up and we go for a walk. Before Willow, I felt like I had no purpose. Now I have a reason to be. She truly is my best friend. We do everything together. If I am feeling low, she knows and will cheer me up.

Willow is such a character that she never fails to make me smile. And I know that while I was in hospital, she was a brilliant companion for my mum, and made her feel like a little of bit of me was still at home.”

What does the future hold for you and WillowSophie & Willow in the garden (Willow enjoying Billy & Margot Banana, Apple & Carrot Ice Treat)

What does the future hold for you and Willow?
“I work as a healthcare assistant in paediatrics and love my job. Willow doesn’t mind too much that I go to work because she is spoilt rotten by my grandad – he’s her favourite. She gets a lot of love from my mum and step mum too.

We’re all looking forward to summer, especially Willow as it means more Billy + Margot doggy iced treats!

We have registered Willow as an emotional support assistance dog. She is so important to me and my life, and this means we can get out and about and visit places that dogs otherwise aren’t allowed to go. She has given me my life back and I wouldn’t be without her for the world.”

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You can follow Sophie and Willow’s adventures on Willow’s Instagram page

Read more about how dogs reduce stress and anxiety, helping with mental health and a great addition to your lifestyle. And of course, have a great  Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, we hope this article has helped give some insight into why this event is so important.

Nicola WithersBenyfit Natural News Editor
Nicola is the very proud owner of Milo, the Working Cocker Spaniel. Together they traverse the woodlands and forests of Kent, chasing squirrels and rabbits (mainly Milo). Nicola keeps Milo in top working order by feeding him Benyfit Natural and there’s never a scrap left in his bowl.
Benyfit Natural @benyfitnatural @benyfitnatural
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