STAYING OUT

Imagine experiencing the freedom of being yourself for the first time. There you are, suddenly accepted as a new being, basking in the lack of suffocating expectations and singing with the potential of a whole new world to explore. But then, the bars clamp down and your newfound freedom evaporates as you’re told to go back to your “old self”. For many LGBTQ youth, this is exactly what has happened. According to a report on NPR on July 20th, 2020 (here), queer college students and young adults have struggled with the question of moving back in with their anti-LGBTQ parents during Covid-19, a move which has had serious implications on mental health.

According to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that supports LGBTQ mental health for those under the age of 25, a whopping forty percent of LGBTQ individuals considered suicide in the last year; that number was substantially lower for those with supportive families and communities. However, the coronavirus quarantine has in many cases substantially reduced access to these supportive communities. For many, this means going back in the closet. All evidence points to the fact that a lack of emotional resources will have a negative effect on mental health and suicidality.

But there is hope. Now that Massachusetts is opening up, there are more and more ways for people to travel outside their homes safely. Even in the absence of structured environments for students such as schools and camps, finding acceptance outside one’s immediate surroundings is now more possible than it was before. Berkshire HorseWorks’ program “This is Me” is available for LGBTQ youth struggling to express themselves and find their voice. The ranch has recently reopened with a COVID-clean facility, enforcing social distancing and hosting their therapeutic workshops outside, where the risk of Covid-19 is lessened. If you or a loved one is struggling with expression or mental health issues, you don’t have to struggle alone. Through Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) our horses can help individuals and families navigate difficult circumstances, and come to understand one another better. LGBTQ, straight or other, let us be there to support you.

Hugs during Covid-19

Lets face it, there are times when we all need a hug. And who knew they were so good for you: a hug provides stress relief, boosts your immune system, increases oxytocin in your brain (the “feel good” hormone), and communicates everything from happiness to fear to sympathy (according to Healthline).

The Family Therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” (Healthline) This may be true, but for most Americans, it may seem a bit excessive. Believe it or not, Americans are not known for being particularly touchy-feely as compared with other countries. In Italy, a trio of kisses is the appropriate way to greet someone; in America, we’re lucky if we get a firm handshake. Some sources say westerners, especially Americans, are regularly touch-deprived. This is obviously especially true during the time of Covid-19 when hugs have become controversial – but still crucial for our wellbeing. (shorten paragraph)

One saving grace is animals. Animals typically don’t get Covid-19, they (usually) love to be pet and played with and the physical contact is good for everyone. Here at Berkshire HorseWorks, we feel especially lucky to have our two miniature Sicilian Donkeys to cuddle with whenever we get the urge. And they’re not shy in sharing: if you find yourself alone and in need of a hug, Bolt and Rodeo are here for you, too.

During this difficult time, if you’re looking for a place to steal a hug, give us a call at 413-698-3700 or shoot us an email at info@berkshirehorseworks.com to set up an appointment to safely hug a Donkey!

Until next time,

Sarah

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