Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

‘He gave me a paw to say it will be OK’: Fife veteran on how dogs help with mental health

dogs help mental health
Mike Cairns and his resuce dog Sam.

Two Fife groups are thinking differently about how to tackle the issue of men’s mental health.

Charity A Veteran’s Best Friend and Pete’s Man Chat Movement are community-led initiatives working to tackle mental health.

The two groups recently announced they will both be offering services from Kirkcaldy’s Linton Lane Centre.

Mental Health Foundation Scotland have called for a transformational approach to mental health to avoid a crisis after the Covid-19 pandemic.

And Courier readers ranked mental health as one of the top two subjects of concern to them in a recent poll.

Man’s best friend

Founder of a Veteran’s Best Friend Mike Cairns.

A Veteran’s Best Friend (AVBF) provides support for armed forces veterans.

Founder Mike Cairns was diagnosed with PTSD, a Perfectionist Personality Disorder and was medically discharged from the Royal Marines in December 2020.

His rescue dog Sam’s reaction when he had a breakdown caused him to want to learn more about what dogs can do to improve people’s mental health.

He says: “The day I got back from the doctor and walked into the house, he just knew I wasn’t right.

“He was tilting his head from side to side, giving me paws, it was his way of saying everything is OK.

“That’s when I began to realise the impact dogs can have on a person’s mental health.”

Sam the dog helped Mike during his breakdown.

Working with veterans

AVBF work with veterans who have failed to engage with other organisations and services.

They also provide support to dog rehoming centres and want to provide assistance dogs to Armed Forces Veterans using rescue dogs.

dogs help mental health
Sam the dog inspired Mike to find out more about how animals can help.

‘Dogs are amazing’

Mike adds, pairing dogs with veterans who are struggling is something they are passionate about.

He said: “These dogs will literally be a lifeline for the veterans.

“They will help with the problem of social isolation within the veteran community, give the veteran an excuse to get out of the house, speak to people, and genuinely give them a purpose in life.

“The dogs will be trained to go into shops, restaurants, public transport etc.

“By having a mental health assistance dog, it gives the veterans the opportunity to feel as able as anyone else to go where they please.

“We believe dogs are amazing and can do things for people that no human can, they have a sixth sense.

“The world would be a dark place without them.  We are deeply passionate about helping veterans who are struggling too.

“There is still too much stigma around in the world in regard to mental health.”

Pete Melville launched Pete’s Man Chat Movement a year ago.

For Pete Melville, founder of the Pete’s Man Chat Movement, simple approaches work best.

Pete: “I started the movement about a year ago.

“I knew there must be something I could do about the issue of men’s mental health.

“For me it’s very basic – what if it’s just as simple as giving men a place where they can talk about what is on their mind?

‘What can we do to change things?’

“A place to talk about anything and everything.”

Pete’s groups, which have run online during lockdown as well as in different Fife venues when restrictions allowed, are open to anyone.

They offer an open door for men to talk informally to others and share mental health concerns.

Thats the sign up at Linton Lane Centre . Thanks again to The Sign Co. Starting wednesday 28th of April 7pm and every week after that. I'm sure you will see my chops before that. Hiya its me Pete. Lol

Posted by Pete's Man Chat Movement on Thursday, 15 April 2021

He said: “Men need to talk about their problems.

“It’s all about being positive and asking ourselves what can we do to change things or do something about how we feel to move forward.

“We see men feeling like they’re going down a path of feeling down, right the way through to others who have been there and come out the other side of it.”

dogs help mental health
Pete with Mandy Hunter of Linton Lane Centre.

Pete added: “Everyone has life experience to offer, many don’t want to look like the victim.

“Some men who have come along admit afterwards they didn’t think they would talk and open up, but do.

“There’s no pressure. Even if someone just wants to come along and listen, for them that can be what’s needed.”

A growing number of groups aimed at men are springing up locally. For those who aren’t ready to talk just yet, or who are worried about a friend’s mental health, there’s also lots of information online.