At the Wyandot Center in Kansas, psychiatrist Dr. Christie Mensch offers a full range of mental health services for adult patients. As part of her commitment to her patients, Dr. Christie Mensch maintains a professional interest in pet therapy and similar approaches to mental health management.
Pet therapy is still an emerging science, but researchers are uncovering more and more ways that animals can help people who live with depression. Consider the following ways that a friendly companion animal can offer therapeutic support.
1. Pets provide an incentive for patients to remain active, even when they do not want to. Companion animals need exercise and recreation, which gives their human friends a reason to get up and move. Countless studies have verified the benefits of active lifestyles for people who have depression.
2. Pets offer companionship and unconditional love. They are friends and confidants, which can help people feel less alone. People who experience depression often become isolated, which can feel very lonely. Pets make people feel less alone.
3. Pets offer a physical connection. Current research suggests that people can benefit emotionally when they physically touch others. These benefits extend to furry friends, and additional studies confirm that petting animals can have positive impacts on blood pressure as well.
Dr. Christie Mensch is a former physician and recent graduate of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s psychiatry residency program, where she served as chief resident. A psychiatrist at Wyandot Center since 2015, Dr. Christie Mensch assists patients with various personality and emotional disorders, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression.
Depression, which may manifest in a variety of ways including anxious distress, melancholic features, catatonia, or seasonal patterns, can be diagnosed using a number of medical methods.
1. Physical exam – By examining the patient, a doctor can determine overall health, and rule out other potential reasons for existing symptoms. It is also possible the depression is related to an undiagnosed physical disorder.
2. Lab tests – A blood test will tell the doctor the total blood cell count and whether the patient’s thyroid is working properly. The thyroid regulates hormone levels, and under- or overproduction of these hormones can cause emotional distress.
3. Psychological evaluation or interview – A psychiatrist may ask the patient questions regarding his or her symptoms, behavior, and personal feelings. Sometimes a questionnaire will be provided to probe further into these issues.
Institute for Community Engagement
A psychiatrist at Wyandot Center since September 2015, Dr. Christie Mensch manages evaluations, diagnosis and treatment of patients struggling with behavioral and emotional disorders. Dr. Christie Mensch is a graduate and charitable supporter of the University of Kansas Medical Center.
In addition to providing education and training in various health fields, the University of Kansas Medical Center oversees the Institute for Community Engagement, which encourages and provides students with opportunities to undertake outreach work within the community.
Healthy Hawks is one of the Institute’s initiatives. This program assists families in their efforts to correct adolescent weight-related issues. Developed in 2004, Healthy Hawks delivers information about healthy eating and active lifestyles that suits the family dynamic and fosters higher self-esteem.
The Institute for Community Engagement also offers educational opportunities for high school students in the state. Women in Health Care: The Next Generation is one such program, designed to inspire young women to pursue health-related education.
Each year, this three-day event invites a number of junior and senior secondary students to the Medical Center, where they can explore the campus and interact with the university’s health care students and professionals.