Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week – and we’re proud to bursting to be teaming up with our friends at Pets As Therapy and charity ambassador James Middleton to help raise awareness of the important role animals can have bringing joy to people in hard times. 
For many people their pets mean so much more than just flurry of muddy paws, and buckets of energy – they bring magic into lives providing a lifeline of support, companionship and love, particularly when we’re feeling low or lost.  And this is something that the whole Barking Heads Team is passionate about – as many of us have experienced it personally:
“George was there for me when I was coping with my separation and subsequent divorce.  He was a constant, never judged or commented and was always just pleased to be with me regardless of if were having a cuddle or escaping for a walk.  Seeing his face and tail wag made the days easier.  Just the simplicity of it took me somewhere that was better than where I was.” – Louise, Barking Heads
“I had a difficult pregnancy with my daughter – things were complex and high risk, and very very stressful.  But my cats seemed to tune into my anxiety – they curled up around my bump purring each night, rarely leaving my side when I was at home.  When I got admitted to hospital with no warning I missed them hugely, my husband sent me little videos which made me feel a lot more at ease… and as daft as it sounds, they were the topic of conversation we were having as my daughter was born by caesarean section. My cats keep me calm. “ - Claire, Barking Heads
James Middleton also has first-hand experience of mental health difficulties. He has spoken openly in the past about his personal battles and speaks very passionately about how his own dogs – Ella, Zulu, Inka, Luna and Mabel – helped him on the road to recovery.
Join us on  Thursday 21st May at 6:30pm, where James will be joined by PATs representative, Matthew Robinson, to host an exclusive live session on the Barking Heads Instagram channel. They will be talking about the charity’s invaluable work and answering questions from the public.
We didn’t just want to share our experiences – particularly right now when things are particularly tough for a lot of people - we wanted to do something extra special and give something back, so as part of our Paws For Thought initiative, we at Barking Heads have set ourselves some personal challenges to raise money to support the wonderful work that Pets As Therapy do
- Sarah, Ruan and Amy are each running half marathons
- Claire’s family are going to do a danceathon - spending as much time as possible dancing over a day!
- Mark’s family are taking on the challenge of running a marathon over a week, as is Katie from the finance team
- Luke is challenging himself to cycle the first stage of the Tour de France on his new bike
- Louise is challenging herself to run the elevation of Everest, from home!
- John is going to learn Spanish!
Mental health is a personal battle, so these are things that we want to achieve is individuals, which we hope will make big difference as a group – wish us luck!  There will likely be some very tired team members on Sunday!