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  1. ITV Report

How horses are helping youngsters battle mental health issues

Hundreds of teenagers battling mental health issues are using a novel method to learn to cope - by working with horses.

The charity Strength and Learning Through Horses is seeing soaring demand for its Equine Therapy sessions, which uses horses as a tool to help young people develop communication and teamwork skills.

Their alternative approach has helped youngsters engage better in class, cope with stress and express their emotions.

The horses help young people develop communication and teamwork skills. Credit: ITV News

They are now calling for their efficient and cost-effective approach to be used as a method of early intervention to ease the strain on the NHS.

Natalie-Ann, a 22-year-old with a severe anxiety disorder and autism, said before attending equine therapy she wouldn't leave the house and struggled to communicate.

Working with Ghost the horse has helped Natalie-Ann immeasurably Credit: ITV News

I felt like I was a waste of space in the world, like I had no opportunities for me, there was nothing that I was going to achieve - I was going to achieve absolutely nothing, but now I’ve achieved so much.

I’m a different person thanks to equine therapy, in a good way!

– Natalie-Ann

Now, she's passed her driving test, enrolled in college, and has made new friends.