People often think that mental illnesses are less important and cause less discomfort than physical ones. However, all the doctors and therapists do not agree with this opinion. Emotional support is as much important for a person as any other kind of support. Moreover, high-quality emotional support can speed up the treatment of physical disabilities. It promotes early adaptation to new living conditions and is excellent therapy and prevention of many illnesses.
That’s why it is not uncommon for doctors to recommend that their patients get an emotional support animal (ESA). ESA is renowned as a licensed mental health professional among doctors. As practice shows, the emotional support that these animals provide significantly improves the general well-being and worldview of people. In some cases, ESA can even completely replace any medical intervention. Like all service animals, it is imperative that emotional support animals undergo special training before they starting to help people cope with their impairments.
What the emotional support animals for?
If you have a constant feeling of loneliness or depression, an emotional support animal is a great decision for you. It is proven that the presence of the animal can raise a person’s spirit and improve mood for a long period of time. Moreover, the owners of pets, not only service dogs, often develop new positive character traits. ESA’s handlers become more responsible, friendly, and sociable. People become less prone to various mental illnesses and are less emotionally vulnerable.
Besides, emotional support animals are specially trained to help their owner to cope with fears and phobias. For example, during the flight, they can help keep calm to those who are afraid to fly. Emotional support animals also promote a person’s socialization. Their handlers become more extroverted and can make new acquaintances and friends much easier.
Disabilities that ESA can cope with
Apart from all of the above, emotional support animals are individually trained to deal with any mental disability. They are considered to be psychiatric service animals which can provide high-quality psychiatric service that is needed to cope with specific mental illness. ESA is a great therapy for people who suffer from different personality disorders. For example, they often assist people with post-traumatic stress disorder, alleviating their condition. Also, emotional support animals are taught to perform tasks for helping people with an eating disorder. Emotional support dogs can also reduce and negate symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Among other psychical illnesses that ESA can cope with, we should name clinical depression, anxiety, panic attacks, social and antisocial personality disorders. For example, an emotional support animal is able to alleviate anxiety disorder by virtually eliminating its visible signs. Psychologists and psychiatrists claim that even those patients who have a long history of illness feel much better within a month after being around emotional support animals.
How does an ESA differ from a service animal?
Most doctors recognize the emotional support animals as the assistance animals, as well as, for example, service dogs. An emotional support dog is often called a licensed mental health professional. It provides people with disabilities with necessary health care and other services, allowing them to perform major life activities. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act still doesn’t qualify ESA as professional medical assistance. Therefore, ESAs’ rights and the rights of their handlers can sometimes be infringed.
First of all, an emotional support dog may be denied access to some public places. This primarily applies to catering places. Also, problems may occur during air travel. If an airline doesn’t let your pet to the cabin of a plane, you may contact the Department of Transportation to solve this problem. If you have all the necessary documents, like ESA letters and Animal Transportation Request, the issue should be resolved quite quickly. Another option is to choose pet-friendly airlines or places of public leisure.
Discrimination can also be observed in the field of housing. For example, some housing providers can refuse to provide housing for the owner of ESA or charge him or her with additional fees for the pet. Nevertheless, according to federal law and the Fair Housing Act, all people have equal rights to use housing services. So, the person with a disability can make a reasonable accommodation request, backing it up with a doctor’s opinion and ESA letter. If it’s not enough, please note, that you always may seek legal advice to resolve any controversial issues.
How to get an emotional support dog?
If a person has a mental disability confirmed by psychologists or other mental health professionals, he or she has an opportunity to qualify for an ESA. To do it the person has to fill in a special letter to register for an ESA. It can be done either online or offline. The registration for the ESA won’t take long. Besides, your dog can be qualified as an emotional support one. A qualify for an ESA letter must be written by the therapist or social worker.
Remember that emotional support dogs are not only four-legged friends. They are service animals that are trained to help a person overcome disability and live a healthy and active life. They can become real partners and companions that are always ready to give you their love and support.