The impact of plushies on mental health


Belinda Quintana

“I haven’t heard [of] the connection, but I have assumed before that my plushies have really helped me.” – Diego Mercado

Belinda Quintana, Staff Writer

When we think of plushies or stuffed animals, kids come to mind. This is mainly cause the media portrays it this way. When you grow up, you’re supposed to grow out of your plushies, right? Well, this is not exactly the case for all people. There are people in our society who may be older than what we might typically consider as kids who carry around a plush with them. This can be a coping mechanism to deal with something hurtful such as an overwhelming feeling of sadness, loneliness, or fear. 

So exactly how do plushies play the role of a coping mechanism for those struggling with their mental health? Well, they allow the feeling of relief or comfort to be felt when a stronger emotion such as stress, anger, fear, anxiety, or depression kicks in. Plushies can also provide a sense of safety and security. Thus alleviating all sorts of strong feelings. Occasionally, plushies may really be the only “person” someone has. But is this normal?

Research shows that using a plushie is a type of grounding skill that can restore calmness and provide comfort. Especially at times when someone is presented with an uncomfortable or traumatic situation.

Freshman student, Sherlin Quintana, shares where she’s heard of the connection between plushies and mental health.

“I heard it from my therapist, psychologist technically. I heard that it could be a good source for mental health,” Quintana said.

Plushies can provide feelings of comfort to individuals when stronger emotions take over. This makes them special to the vast majority of people who own them. From cuddling with the plush to hugging it while crying, they allow for a sort of connection that helps out those who can not seem to express their feelings 

Another high school freshman and plush collector, Diego Mercado, also uses plushies as a support for his mental health.

“Although I hold a connection to all of my plushies, there’s definitely a special value with one of them, which I have made by noticing that whenever I cry, I’m always cuddled with that specific plush,” Mercado said. 

Plushies are usually with someone due to a specific purpose. Some of these purposes may be that they’ve received the plush only as a gift leading to unique and personal memories or even perhaps needing it for a collection. The purpose varies on the person.

Middle College High School (MCHS) freshman, Karen Valle, believes plushies are more about enjoyment.

“I just like plushies, they are cute and some are collectible or just have good memories,” Valle said.

Freshman, Rudy Montoya, agrees.

“The majority of plushies I own were given to me as gifts. They serve as a way for me to remember someone and their significance to me. A few plushies are valuable to me since they are based on my favorite video game characters and [were] given to me as gifts by my parents. Some of those gifts come with meaningful memories,” said Montoya.

Aside from plushies providing comfort and having significance to people because of specific memories, they also provide other sorts of emotional support.

“I’ve heard from a few of my friends that having plushies makes them feel safe or peaceful while they’re at home or alone,” said Montoya.

Mercado also mentions one of their friends who shows signs of using plushies for emotional support.

“I have a great friend of mine who has a strong attachment to their plushes [plushies]; they always bring a different plush whenever I hang out with them and see them purchasing a new plush every once in a while. Although they haven’t explicitly told me that their plushies are a form of emotional support I can definitely conclude the position,” said Mercado.

Although some may disagree with the statement that “plushies help with mental health,” others tend to view them as a symbol of inspiration.

“I feel really excited whenever I see them, as if it’s just me and them against the world,” said Mercado.