TUCKER, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - It’s something many people don’t talk about, but mental well-being is just as important as our physical well-being.
This week marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Month. A small farm in DeKalb County is tackling mental health awareness in a unique way.
GGA Dwarf Goat Yoga in Tucker welcomes people of all ages to their farm for goat yoga, aka Goga.
“We ended up getting two goats and then it just kind of grew from there. Then two turned to four, then before you know it, we had a whole company,” said Sabrina Matthews.
They currently have nine goats in total. Owners Sabrina and Brandon Matthews say they started the business three years ago during the pandemic because they and their two kids felt isolated.
According to National Council for Mental Wellbeing, one in five adults experienced mental illness in 2020. That equates to nearly 53 million adults in the U.S. Teenagers are impacted too. One in six have dealt with depression.
“We know interacting with animals, including goats, also releases these endorphins. That’s why pets can be incredibly important to mental recovery and decrease anxiety as well,” said Dr. Jayne Morgan, Piedmont Health Care.
Brandon Matthews says he’s watched people change when they attend their classes with licensed yoga instructors and, of course, goats.
“The goats make you smile. It opens it up for a powerful instructor to provide a lesson, mentally. We do meditation classes. The first thing is to open up the smile. After that, you can receive the good energy and leave the bad energy,” said Brandon Matthews.
Sabrina says participants can choose their goat yoga journey. There is no one size fits all.
“Some people come in and they just want to sit down, relax, and meditate. They don’t want to do anything first; they just want to relax and meditate. That’s how it will start then others sometimes they come in and they’re like, ‘oh my God, goats, want to take pictures!’ Then that will start it,” said Sabrina Matthews.
GGA Dwarf Goat Yoga also offers hiking with goats.
You can learn more about Goat Yoga by visiting their website here.
For access to services and immediate crisis help, call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225, available 24/7. You can also dial the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Three easy numbers to remember if you’re in need in of help.
Copyright 2023 WANF. All rights reserved.