Campaign puts spotlight on equine assisted services for mental health

The "Seen Through Horses" peer-to-peer fundraising campaign aims to increase awareness, public engagement, and raise funds to improve access to programs incorporating horses for mental health.
Image by Rebecca Schönbrodt-Rühl

A month-long campaign focusing on the use of equine assisted services for mental health and wellness gets under way today.

The Seen Through Horses Campaign coincides with Mental Health Awareness Month from May 1-31, 2023, with 65 nonprofit organizations convening as benefactors. Seen Through Horses is a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign comprising individuals, nonprofits, mental health professionals, influencers, and businesses to increase awareness, public engagement, and raise funds to improve access to programs incorporating horses for mental health and personal growth.

Horses have been incorporated into various human health and wellness services for many years, but involving horses within the context of mental health is relatively new. Horses can make a big difference in the mental health challenges so many people face and help them transform in a safe and powerful way. Seen Through Horses aims to convene a community, empower nonprofits, and share stories of transformation to illustrate the positive impacts of incorporating horses into mental health services and programs.

Mental health does not discriminate. It touches every person alive either personally or through a loved one; statistics indicate that one in five people in the US will be affected by mental illness in their life. Every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide and depression is the No.1 cause of disability worldwide. Two-thirds of people with a mental illness never seek help, and of those who do, only about 50% find traditional talk therapy successful (NAMI, 2020).

Participants are invited to choose a charity to support, and start raising funds for mental health services incorporating horses. Donations can also be made directly to a chosen charity.

Among the groups taking part is The Marley Project, Inc., based in South Carolina. Executive Director Julianne Neal says the project is always seeking innovative ways of providing services with horses.

“Our core values include service to others, collaborations between horses and humans and empathy for others as our participants are self-empowered to serve as the authors of their own stories.

“From our equine rescue program to experiential learning for groups and individuals, we have personally seen the difference this work has made for so many people. We are so pleased to partner with all of the campaign partner and sponsors to further awareness about the power of horses for healing,” Neal says.

Services offered by The Marley Project include Equine Assisted Learning, Equine Rescue, and Equine Based Public Service projects. It provides and supports programs for mental health and wellness, equine experiences through arts and literacy integration and collaborations with local charity organizations.

The Seen Through Horses Campaign is made possible by premier sponsor Zoetis, and executive produced by Horses for Mental Health, Equine Network and Arenas for Change (ARCH).

It is also being supported by the American Horse Council, American Psychological Association’s Section on Human Animal Interaction (APA HAI), Black in the Saddle, The Equus Films & Arts, Horses & Humans Research Foundation​​, Institute for Human-Animal Connection, PATH International, Polyvagal Equine Institute, Natural Lifemanship, Temple Grandin Equine Center (CSU), and The HERD Institute.

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