Pet owners in Norfolk and Suffolk are being asked to volunteer to take their dogs and cats into hospitals to visit patients in mental health wards.
Experts say contact with an animal can be beneficial, can alleviate depression and give patients something to look forward to.
Essex County Council is hoping the Olympics will lead to a rise in the number of people volunteering in the county.
Council chiefs is encouraging people who have been inspired by the Gamesmakers to start volunteering.
A host of volunteering opportunities have been advertised on a new website www.goodforessex.org