A canine companion has arrived at Heriot-Watt, to underline the University’s commitment to supporting positive mental health across the community.
The Black Dog statue, named Watt-Woof and only the second of its kind in Scotland, is a permanent demonstration of Heriot-Watt’s support of the aims of the SANE Black Dog Campaign.
The Black Dog has been used as a metaphor for depression from antiquity to the present day. The Black Dog Campaign, launched by the mental health charity SANE in 2011, aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourages people to seek help early, rather than suffering in silence.
The W.H.O. predicts that by 2030, depression will be the world’s most disabling condition. Yet despite being so common, there is still a great deal of stigma attached to depression which discourages people from speaking openly about it and seeking treatment.
The fundraising campaign to purchase Watt-Woof was launched just a year ago aiming to raise £5,000, and to date half as much again has been collected through a boundary colour-run round the Edinburgh Campus, a Black Dog Bazaar and a sponsored climb of Ben Nevis.
Promoting positive mental health
University Secretary Ann Marie Dalton said, “It’s wonderful that we’ve been able to surpass our fundraising target to bring Watt-Woof to the campus and to continue to support the aims and work of SANE in helping people suffering from mental health issues and promoting positive mental health. We’re particularly pleased to be welcoming our dog the day before World Mental Health Day.
“Watt-Woof represents the University’s commitment to these aims and to working with SANE to promote this support and best practice for students, staff and the wider community.”
Sharan Virdee, Heriot-Watt’s Equality and Diversity Partner, who organised the fundraising campaign, said, “We hope that Watt-Woof will be a supportive and comforting presence, as well as a reminder to the whole community of the challenges and importance of positive mental health.
“Initially our dog will greet arrivals to our Edinburgh Campus in the reception, but in the longer term it will go walkabout around the campus and hopefully between our Scottish campuses as well.”
SANE’s chief executive, Marjorie Wallace said, “We would like to thank the Heriot-Watt Community for their very successful fundraising efforts already this year, and for creating a new Black Dog to help us beat the stigma of mental illness. Plans are in motion to tour the University’s UK campuses, Watt-Woof will be going to the northernmost point of the UK, Orkney, the furthest any of our Black Dogs has ever travelled, reaching many more students, staff and families.”