Having a mental disability like stress, anxiety, or depression can give the patient adamant time, especially when you have little to no interaction with the outside world. The metal disabilities have been reported to increase at a sharp rate in urban areas. This can be due to multiple reasons like being away from home or not being comfortable with sharing your stress with everyone or having panic attacks due to past trauma and the list goes on.
It is widely acknowledged how animals can be an ultimate source of joy due to their active and playful nature and the ability to create a bond with human beings. Such animals that help in your stress, anxiety or depression can then be qualified as your Emotional Support Animal.
When you have a strong emotional connection with your pet, which helps you to get by to your daily routine such pets are called Emotional Support Animal. This can be exemplified with the case where, for instance, you are suffering from a panic attack. An emotional support animal would be a great source of comfort and help you to restore the stability of your mind in this situation. Imagine coming home after a tiresome day at work, and then you are welcomed by your furry little friend, just imagine the joy you get when you are greeted so cheerfully and you can instantly feel your tiredness escalating in seconds.
Not only emotional support animals are supportive, but due to the strong emotional bond that they establish with their owners, they can become your new best friend easily.
ESA has undeniably become an excellent cure for combating mental disorders as doctors have acknowledged and recognized the benefits of ESA. Moreover, a vast range of researches has been done in this area to reach the core of how ESA benefits a patient suffering from mental disorders.
Emotional support animal vs. an ordinary pet vs. a service animal
Emotional support animals are often well confused with regular pets and service animals. You might have a strong bond with your furry pet if it has been with you for a long while. However, it is good to understand the difference between an emotional support animal and a normal pet. You can easily buy a pet from a pet store without going through any legal processions. However, the process of getting an emotional support animal is entirely different. It requires a third person, preferably your therapist, to recommend the emotional support animal that is best suited for you. There is a fine line between a pet and an emotional support animal, as the ESA can do several things that an ordinary pet cannot do.
Just like pets, there are also service animals that are often brought in confusion with emotional support animals. The service animals serve a completely different purpose as they are assigned to people with physical disabilities. The service animals are trained according to the task they are supposed to perform for the disabled person. For example, a service dog can help his owner cross the road and walk around if he is visually impaired.
Just like pets are a source of joy and comfort for their owners, and service animals are a constant source of support for physically disabled people, an ESA helps people in their emotional and mental well-being.
Benefits of ESA
Now that we have understood what precisely an emotional support animal is let’s look into the details of the numerous benefits that ESA provides to its owners.
1. Getting attention and unconditional love
In times of loneliness, all that a person needs is someone they can count on in terms of love and affection. An ESA showers its owner with endless love, which the patient often struggles to find. This is important for people who are going through a hard time connecting with people and are struggling with their relationships. This certainly doesn’t mean that all those who have an ESA find it challenging to connect with others. This love given by the ESA acts as a head start and motivation for the person to get back to their everyday life. The unconditional love and affection have been reported to suppress the significant symptoms of the mental condition and greatly help in giving the person a feeling of well-being.
2. Regulation of everyday moods
People who have any mental disorder are likely to go through extreme mood swings, which is accompanied by anxiety, stress, and other similar conditions. An ESA helps to stabilize and restore the good mood of their owner. It is essential in the sense as the person needs help in stress management and getting away from their fear, an ESA does the job pretty well. It helps in decreasing agitation and anxiety by constantly accompanying their owners regardless of the time and situation. This means that whatever hour of the day it is, and wherever you are, your emotional support animal will always be there to cheer you up when you are feeling low.
3. Improvement in overall health
Not only an ESA helps in improving mental health, but it also equally helps in enhancing the physical health of the person. If your ESA is close to you and you feel an emotional connection with them just like a person, then this not only would help you in feeling better mentally but also have positive effects on your physical health. Whether it is taking your pet out for a walk or playing with them in the backyard, the social support provided by ESA improves your muscular and cardiovascular movement. It also releases endocrine and endorphin that lifts the mood of the person and gives them contentment.
Laws for emotional support animals
The state well protects the emotional support animals under two laws:
§ Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)
Under this law, you can easily take your ESA on traveling with you without any restrictions.
- The airline won’t be allowed to impose any weight restrictions on your animal, and no similar restrictions would be applied concerning the breed of the emotional support animal.
- No additional charges apply to the ESA.
Before carrying your ESA on the flight with you, it is better to contact the airline at least two days before your flight so that the airline can check and ensure that all the essential documents have been submitted.
§ The Fair Housing Act (FHA)
Under the Fair Housing Act, the person is free to keep their ESA with them even if there is a no pet restriction in their living place.
- The landlord would not be able to impose any restrictions concerning the breed and size of the emotional support animal.
- You would also need not to give any medical evidence to the landlord under this law.
Legalities and getting the certification of ESA
Getting an emotional support animal and carrying it around is not as easy as having a pet. Some specific criteria and legalities need to be met for the person to keep an emotional support animal.
There is a list of disabilities that make the person eligible for having an emotional support animal. This includes phobias, depression, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and other such conditions where the person has a higher chance of finding relief with an emotional support animal.
To start with the process of ESA certification, you need to see a licensed mental health professional who can be your therapist, psychiatrist, etc. The doctor would observe your mental state, and it would then be decided whether you need to keep an ESA or not. There is a higher chance of the doctor recommending an ESA if you fall under the category of standard emotional conditions like social disorders, being emotionally overwhelming, etc.
The doctor would then issue you with a housing letter under his practice letterhead, which would state your disorder and need for an ESA. After being signed by the doctor, you can use this housing letter to carry your ESA around without any significant restrictions easily.
The ESA housing letter allows you to easily carry your pet on the flight and keep it with you in your house. This is especially beneficial in the case where the landlords usually restrict the housing of pets. The letter gives you the legal right to keep the pet with you. After getting a housing letter, there is no other certification required for your ESA.
Summing up ESA, all you need to do to receive certification for your emotional support animal is:
- Take an assessment to see if you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal
- Have a licensed therapist who can thoroughly analyze your condition.
- Get your signed housing/travel letter for ESA from the therapist.
The housing/travel letter must contain the license of your therapist so that it can be verified easily by the landlords or airlines.
Getting an emotional support animal can be highly beneficial for you if you are having a hard time coping with your mental disorder. The process of getting an ESA is quite simple, and your furry little friend will be an excellent company for you throughout the journey of recovering and getting back to a much better state.