Mental health awareness is of the utmost importance, both when we look at society as a whole and when we try to care for ourselves. Mental health disorders can be debilitating for children and adults alike. As societal awareness grows and the stigma dissipates, talking about mental health has become easier for many.
In recent years, one of the main talking points in mental health awareness has been about shifting away from medicinal treatment and seeking holistic assistance whenever possible. This has shed light on various forms of therapy to be used in conjunction with and instead of traditional medicine. One of the methods gaining popularity is the use of an ESA.
What is an ESA?
ESA stands for Emotional Support Animal. Animals are known for their deep levels of love and understanding that humans often struggle to convey to one another. By interacting with these furry friends, people struggling with mental health disorders–such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression– are able to make a connection with a living entity without feeling awkward or self-conscious. In essence, Emotional Support Animals are the perfect resource for when words fail us.
Who Can Use an ESA?
Anyone who has a documented mental condition is able to register an ESA. There is a wide range of mental conditions that are eligible, including sleep disorders, gender and sexual identity struggles, separation anxiety, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), eating disorders, impulse control, and more.
As difficulty and the extent of struggle are subjective to the person experiencing it, the list is quite expansive as to include anybody that falls under the umbrella of mental health issues. If you are unable to find your disorder on eligibility lists available, talk to your doctor about getting a notice of recommendation available for this purpose.
When you apply to register an ESA, you will need to procure documented proof from a medical professional stating that your disorder affects your ability to complete daily tasks. You will also require their recommendation– an emotional support animal prescription, if you will– to use an ESA as a part of your treatment plan.
Is an ESA a Service Dog?
There are a few key differences between an ESA and a service dog. Depending on the local laws, a service dog may require registration to gain access to public venues like stores and restaurants. You don’t need to register an ESA. While an ESA can be used on commercial airlines and in apartment complexes that have no pet policies, they are not able to move as freely as a service dog.
Another key difference is that a service dog requires special training, specific to the needs of its owner. However, ESAs do not require training .
How do I get an ESA?
If you already have a pet you would like to register, you can do so. On the other hand, you may wait to find an animal until after you’ve had the discussion with the mental health expert overseeing your treatment plan.
Ultimately, you need to find a dog (or another animal) that’s right for you; the rest is paperwork about your mental health. You may choose to adopt a rescue dog who needs love and affection in return for its support to you. If a dog isn’t for you, you may choose a cat.
Just keep in mind that while there is no size limit on an ESA, you will likely be unable to take a horse on an airplane regardless of what paperwork you have on hand. Other than that, feel free to go forth and explore your options for this amazing form of mental health treatment!
Article Submitted by Community Writer.