Image source : Pixabay.com/
Over 40 million Americans have a mental health condition today. In fact, statistics show staggering figures of worsening mental health condition of Americans. As such, mental health experts worry that the country will be plunged into a dark hole of depression. Despite several efforts both at state and national levels, little has been achieved to alleviate the situation of people. Clinical counseling and therapies are good in their place, but a lot more needs to be done to achieve a high happiness index.
Emotional Support Animals
If you are one of the many Americans who is going through mental distress, you must have heard the therapeutic benefits of animals, especially dogs and cats. Such animals are called Emotional Support Animals (ESA), which are designated specifically to help individuals with psychological or emotional disabilities. These animal-companions include several animals and may be the individual’s current pet. They differ from service animals in the sense that they are untrained to perform chores and identify diseases. They are a symbol of strong companionship and emotional bond between the owner and the animal.
Emotional Support Animal Certification
The Federal Law guides the ownership of Emotional Support Animals. Disabled individuals who feel they would benefit from such animals must have a psychological evaluation to be termed disabled by a licensed professional. In order to own such animals, one has to get the emotional support animals certification. The common psychological disabilities covered under the law are as follows:
- Depressive disorders
- Stress disorders
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety/Panic disorders
- Personality disorders
Though ESAs become like family members, they are quite different from general house pets. These animals provide emotional support and are governed by strict laws. The Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act are the two main federal laws applicable to Emotional Support Animals and their owners. The former act, passed in 1990, restricts airlines from refusing transportation or charging fees from disable individuals, while the latter act, passed in 1998, requires housing and apartment communities to make reasonable accommodation for ESAs.
How to qualify for Emotional Support Animals?
If you have an emotional disability, which is certified by a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapists or other licensed mental health professional, you can own an ESA. The ESA certification is a formal letter, which contains the following details of the patient:
- Proof of mental or emotional disability described in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) by a mental health professional
- Proof of being under the treatment and care of the mental health professional
- Proof of prescription of ESA as an integral part of treatment
- Date of issue, which should be less than a year from the date of departure