Home » Man With Schizophrenia Manages Symptoms With The Help Of A Psychiatric Service Dog

Man With Schizophrenia Manages Symptoms With The Help Of A Psychiatric Service Dog.

Published on April 10, 2024 by Darren Jorgensen
Wisconsin resident Kody Green, a speaker and mental health advocate, has over 1.5 million followers on a social media handle named @schizophrenichippie. Green posts here regularly regarding schizophrenia and its symptoms. His recent video, which went viral, shows the vital role his dog, Luna, plays in his day-to-day life. This service animal has helped him alleviate symptoms of his disorder.
Manages Symptoms With The Help Of A Psychiatric Service Dog


Green started getting symptoms of schizophrenia at the age of 18 and was diagnosed with the illness at 21. The mental illness led to addiction and later imprisonment. After finding success with treatment and medication, Kody now shares what life is like living with schizophrenia, some of the coping mechanisms, and how he manages his daily life with it.

Green was suffering from hallucinations even after the medication and other treatments. Little did he know that four years later, his life would completely change with a four-legged furry companion that would give him the confidence he needed to live a fully functional life. Green stated, “We adopted Luna from a family friend who had an accidental litter. We got her at eight weeks old, and she is now almost four years old.”

He mentioned that Luna was not like other dogs and added, “Luna was trained to help me with several tasks, including helping me identify visual hallucinations, grounding me, and preventing self-harm during auditory hallucinations.”

In the video, Green demonstrated Luna’s training after he started having a visual hallucination, in which he began “seeing another person” in his house. In the clip, Green can be heard instructing Luna to greet the person, but she stays quiet instead sits down. This response told Green that the person he saw was not there.

Moreover, Luna also prevents Green from self-harming during auditory hallucinations. She jumps on his lap and puts her head against his, preventing Green from hitting his face and bringing him back to the present moment.

Green stated that he can’t stress enough his service dog’s role in improving his life. He added, “Luna helps me feel more comfortable in my home. Unfortunately, I most commonly have hallucinations at home and in the evenings, so it is so helpful for me to be able to recognize these symptoms and be able to acknowledge that I am having hallucinations.”

“I used to always question myself and whether or not I was having hallucinations, “and Luna eliminates the fear, confusion, and frustration that has taken up so much of my life.”

How Do Psychiatric Service Dogs Help With Schizophrenia?

Dogs have been helping people of all ages with varying disabilities for centuries. By boosting independence, a sense of safety, peace of mind, and confidence. A psychiatric service dog helps to reduce the symptoms related to the disability.

A psychiatrist and professor at UMass Chan Medical School, Dr. Xiaoduo Fan, said that dogs can provide the social interaction some people with the illness need but lack. This idea is related to the “biophilia hypothesis,” which states that people are intrinsically drawn to other living things for feelings of safety and connection.

Fan added, “People with schizophrenia have trouble relating to people, so that affects their social relationships. Humans are social animals with needs for love, friendship, and acceptance, and schizophrenia patients are no different. Having an animal around can satisfy those needs with non-verbal communication.”

Why Is It Difficult To Have A Psychiatric Service Dog?

To get a psychiatric service dog, an individual should have an emotional or mental health condition that is mentioned under the Americans with Disabilities Act. These PSDs are protected by federal laws, which permit them to accompany their handlers anywhere. One must obtain a PSD letter from a licensed mental health professional.

PSD letter states the role of the Psychiatric Service Dog in your mental well-being. Getting a PSD can be difficult as it comes with many responsibilities, care, and expenses. Training a PSD can cost between $20,000 to $30,000 on average, and then hustle to find a licensed professional in the state and get a PSD letter.

This is why Green didn’t plan to train Luna to help him better handle his symptoms. Still, he got her just as his social media presence as a schizophrenia advocate soared, which connected him to several certified dog trainers who taught Green how to train Luna to be a psychiatric service dog via FaceTime.

Training Luna himself was a more accessible option than buying a dog that was already trained or having a professional train Luna directly. The alternatives were too expensive, plus coming from rural Wisconsin, where there aren’t many service dog trainers around — a reality that many people with disabilities face when seeking help to supplement their other treatments.

Posted in: News

About the Author

Patricia Thompson
Darren Jorgensen
Darren M. Jorgensen has a fondness for all animals, though dogs especially, have a huge home in his heart. He enjoys quilting, making handcrafted soap and bodyworks and anything that produces practical products. Jorgensen lives with his own service dog who doubles as an Emotional Support Animal. He gets it.


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