It is a crisp October morning on the ANU campus, and after months of campaigning from student activists for better mental health services, our benevolent administration has decided to implement the catch-all cure for all of your ‘little moods’: a petting zoo.
University VC Ryan Mitts told Bossy: “We know that exam time is tough, so we want to give students as much support as possible. We’ve hired a petting zoo, a fleet of kittens and a jumping castle!”
When pressed as to whether this push for mental health awareness would perhaps involve better access to counselling services or wider structural changes that do not involve farm animals, Mitts responded: “Listen, these kinds of changes don’t happen overnight. But to quell your concerns, we are considering potentially appointing a steering committee to maybe consider what other changes could possibly be suggested for implementation somewhere in the distant future.”
Moments after the interview Mitts proceeded to sprint towards and jump on the aforementioned $1000-an-hour jumping castle, cutting in front of students who had been waiting in line for over an hour.
Students have been delighted with the administration’s response to mental ill health. One student told Bossy: “I haven’t been able to get through a conversation without crying in weeks but hearing that I might get a selfie with a kitten was really all I needed.”
Indeed, many have commented on the calming effects of seeing a trembling guinea pig desperately trying to wriggle out of the grasp of an equally trembling student.
“They are so small and terrified,” commented Emma, a third-year law student, “which really puts things in perspective.”
“I’ve been living off plain pasta for the last month since my Centrelink got cut off, but the photo opportunities offered by the petting zoo are priceless,” another student revealed.
Bertie, a first-year science student, noted: “With my chronic pain I haven’t been able to sit in a lecture theatre for more than 15 minutes, but staring at this goat ramming its head into a petting zoo gate in fear has really helped me chill out. I may not be able to get out of bed but now I’m just glad I don’t have to spend my entire life trapped in a tiny cage!”
Not all were happy with the petting zoo, however, with an environmental activist group stationed outside the Chancelry building protesting the unfair treatment of animals. Unfortunately, Ryan was unavailable to address the comments as he was off enjoying a glass of his vineyard wine.
If the petting zoo doesn’t manage to fix the entire complexities of your mental illness, however, do not stress (even more)! ANU Counselling is still taking appointments for 2019.