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There is no doubt that the intensity of stress, worry, isolation, boredom, and unemployment over the past few months has significantly impacted the general mental health of the world’s population. More than ever, we need psychological uplifting, and many have found that emotional support animals do just that. If you struggle with your mental health and require emotional support, an animal could be the prescription that you need.
The recent U.S. Census Bureau, taken from August 2020 to February 2021, showed “unmet mental health care” from 9.2% to 11.7% of the population. The census showed that the percentage of adults (primarily those between 18 – 29 years) with recent anxiety symptoms or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5% in one year.
Trends in mental health care, including emotional support animals, have emerged as a valuable form of intervention. But how simple is it to get an Emotional Support Animal Letter? We discuss all the benefits of reaching out to a licensed professional so that you can get an ESA Letter that qualifies an animal companion to specific benefits.
What Is An Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
An emotional support animal is an untrained assistance animal, which can often be a domestic pet such as dogs and cats, that a licensed mental health professional or licensed therapist has determined benefits the owner by providing relief from mental health symptoms. Although these assistance animals are usually dogs or cats, other pets like horses and rabbits have also managed to help their owners by providing companionship and affection.
What qualifies your animal to be an ESA is a letter from a licensed mental health professional or licensed therapist that has assessed your emotional needs. An emotional support animal does not need to have any specific skills and is different from a service animal trained to perform tasks. Companion animals who provide emotional support also do not need to be officially registered by any national registry database, nor do they have to wear special gear to let others know their function.
Emotional support animals can form part of a holistic treatment plan for a person who struggles with a mental or emotional disability.
Get An ESA Letter With CertaPet
CertaPet is an online telehealth platform that assists individuals with access to mental health care in the U.S. and Canada. The business serves those wanting animal-assisted support as part of their treatment plan. An associated mental health professional will assess whether the patient can qualify for an ESA Letter online.
What Makes CertaPet the #1 ESA Letter Consultation Provider?
- Those interested can get a free pre-screening to see if they are eligible for a consultation.
- There is a fast, simple, and secure process for those who need to speak to a licensed professional.
- Certapet issues assessed and qualified clients with an online and physical copy of their ESA Letter.
- They have an informative blog that includes information on emotional support animals, psychiatric service dogs, and other types of dogs that provide service and support.
- They have a world-class customer service team that is accessible by email or via the phone number provided on their website.
- They also offer the special promotion program 30% off coupon for their customer
Other ESA Registration Agency
How To Qualify For An ESA Letter?
Any person who has been diagnosed by a licensed therapist or licensed medical professional to have a psychological disability can qualify for an Emotional Support Animal Letter. The mental disability has to be listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM 5. It doesn’t have to be a severe mental illness. If you struggle with general anxiety or depression, then you can qualify for an ESA Letter.
Some of the most common mental disabilities include:
Pets make us laugh; they comfort us when they sense we’re low, and they love without judgment. A companion animal may help those with depression or anxiety depression, and alleviate depressive thinking.
General Anxiety Disorder
Day-to-day anxiety and anxiety depression can be greatly relieved when you have a pet that causes an endorphin release by being a part of your regular activities.
An animal may comfort a person with an eating disorder with companionship, love, and redirected emotional fulfillment.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Do you struggle with social settings and crowded places? ESA owners concerned about being judged or scrutinized in public can divert attention to their pets, which can help them feel at ease. An emotional support pet can help its owner to meet new people by boosting their confidence.
Facing a panic attack can feel terrifying and lonely. Having an emotional support dog may calm a person with their presence and give them something to focus on as they regulate.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Pets can help their owners to feel relaxed. PTSD can affect a person at various times and in different spaces, whether it’s entering an unknown room, loud noises, nightmares, or sudden flashbacks. An ESA dog can comfort owners when they feel panicked, and their presence can help restore calm.
Taking your dog for a stroll is an excellent task that can replace obsessive behavior. If the companionship of a pet helps ease your OCD tendencies, you may qualify for an ESA Letter.
Your dog needs you. This knowledge can be comforting for many pet parents who may feel isolated and suffering from bipolar disorders. Whatever mood changes, fluctuations in energy levels, and emotional fluctuations take hold, if your pet comforts you in those times, an ESA Letter can ensure that your pet is able to live with you in your place of residence.
Phobias and Fears
Oxytocin is the love hormone that gives one a feeling of belonging and attachment. Many studies have found that human-animal interaction enhances health and eases stress. A dog or cat may help to alleviate your fears and phobias.
When a pet comforts you in your time of need, their loyalty and devotion may mitigate unhealthy urges and impulses.
How to Obtain Legitimate ESA Letters
Legitimate ESA Letters can only be issued by a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) who has assessed and diagnosed a patient with a mental disability. Other medical professionals that may give ESA Letters include Psychiatrists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Psychologists, Licensed Therapists, or any medical professional who is evaluating, performing an ongoing treatment, and testifying their patient’s need for an emotional support animal.
There are three types of ESA Letters:
- ESA Housing Letter
- ESA Travel Letter
- Combined ESA Letter for Housing and Travel
A person can find a local LMHP in their area or go through a Telehealth company like CertaPet who connects pet owners with LMHP who are familiar with ESAs.
Be cautious of Emotional Support Animal Certification Sites. A pet that provides emotional support does not have to be registered or have any skill other than its devotion to its owner. Fake ESA sites sell ESA Letters without a professional medical assessment. Be careful not to fall for clickbait sites that will end up issuing you an illegitimate letter.
Emotional Support Dog Differs From Psychiatric Service Dog
A published journal by Environmental Research and Public Health mentions that “A service animal is defined as an animal that provides assistance related to a person’s disability, and enjoys broad access to public locations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”
Psychiatric Service Animals
Like Emotional Support Animals, Psychiatric Service Animals assist people who live with mental disorders and disabilities such as depression and anxiety.
However, service animals, of which Psychiatric Service Dogs are a recognized subcategory, require advanced training specific to their handler’s needs. The dog will perform tasks to help its owner with specific mental illness symptoms. The ADA says: “It is the fact that the animal is trained to respond to the individual’s needs that distinguish an animal as a service animal. The process must have two steps: Recognition and response.”
The response of a Psychiatric Service Animal could include:
- Providing a buffer between their handler and other people during a panic attack by circling them.
- Recognizing signs of distress in their owner and leading them to a safe space.
- A PSA may perform a room search for someone with PTSD who struggles to enter new areas.
- A service dog may interrupt harmful or self-harming behavior.
- Providing a calming form of pressure therapy.
- A psychiatric service animal may provide emotional grounding when they notice signs of anxious behavior and pending escalation.
- Retrieving calming aids or medication.
- Fetching help when signaled to do so.
Psychiatric Service Animals have more rights than emotional support pets. These include Public Access Rights, Travel Privileges, Fair Housing, and Educational Facility Access under the ADA and federal laws.
Emotional Support Animals
Emotional support animals are companion pets who do not have specific training. While behavioral training is advised so that your animal can be housed and taken onto airplanes without disturbance, it is not a requirement.
The qualifying feature is that the pet owner is legally diagnosed with a mental illness when it comes to ESA Letter requirements. The LMHP will issue a letter for housing or travel purposes, or both.
Depending on the ESA Letter issued, a companion animal has the right to live with its owner and may be able to travel on some airlines. Keep in mind that ESA companions don’t have the same federally protected rights as trained service animals. These laws may limit access to public places, including educational facilities and other public establishments.
Is An Emotional Support Dog Allowed On Flights?
A legitimate ESA Letter for Travel allows you to confirm with airlines that you have a diagnosed mental disability that is relieved by the presence of your companion animal. However, the current Air Carrier Access Act by the Department of Transportation (DOT) “does not require airlines to recognize emotional support animals as service animals.”
If you are hoping to travel with your ESA, check your airline’s policies and restrictions for your ESA. Some airlines may regard your ESA dog the same as they would any pet. This may mean you’re required to pay pet fees or use required pet carriers. The animal type and breed may also have a role to play. Each state in the U.S. may also have unique policies relating to travel with a companion animal.
Keep in mind that dogs are the preferred ESA, and you may have trouble getting your rabbit, snake, iguana, or other exotic pet onto a plane. Take note of the date of issuance and expiry date of your ESA letter as well if you are planning to fly with your animal.
Housing Registration For Your Pet
An ESA Letter for Housing is issued for the housing requirements of a person with a mental disability who needs their pet to live with them to ease their mental health symptoms. The letter is in reference to the Fair Housing Act of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Fair Housing Act “prohibits discrimination by direct providers of housing” to people with disabilities or because of their race, sex, religion, family status, and national origin. Agents need to provide reasonable accommodation for all.
Having an ESA Letter for Housing is helpful for specific living arrangements that would otherwise prohibit pets, specifically apartments and college dorms or residences. Upon presentation of an ESA Letter, a landlord is required to provide reasonable accommodation by providing an exemption from their no-pet policy. ESA owners are also exempt from pet deposits or pet fees.
A pet owner with an ESA Letter will need to address their landlord to discuss the situation.
Where Can I Get My Emotional Support Dog?
Individuals can acquire an emotional support animal anywhere. When it comes to dogs, you can search for an ethical breeder or simply visit a local shelter or animal rescue. Emotional support dogs do not have to be any specific breed, either, so your animal can be either purebred or mixed-breed. There is also no physical requirement; you could have a giant breed, toy-sized dog, or a hairless cat. As long as your pet is therapeutically beneficial to your mental and emotional state, then they qualify.
An emotional support animal does not need training to perform any specific task. However, it is strongly encouraged to get any pet socialized at a young age. If you wish to travel with your companion pet without scrutiny, make sure your dog is well behaved in public settings and can follow commands. A dog that has social anxiety themselves is not a good fit. Keep this in mind if you have an older, adopted pet that is prone to anxious behavior.
If you think you need more than one ESA, speak to your licensed therapist. Your LMHP may certify you for two ESAs, as there is no law against having more than one companion animal. Just keep in mind that airlines and landlords may not allow more than one pet. Airlines, for instance, may have a one ESA pet policy if they allow emotional support animals on board a flight.
Final Thoughts: Is An ESA Letter Legit?
If you live with a mental illness and think an assistance animal can help you cope with daily life, speak to your therapist or doctor about an ESA Letter. An emotional support animal can form a part of your treatment plan if they effectively relieve your symptoms of emotional illness.
Do online ESA Letters work? A legit ESA Letter is issued by licensed mental health professionals with a visible license number, your name, details about your pet, and expiry date on the letter. The letter or letters need to be issued following an assessment, whether online or in person. Remember, however, that ADA and federal laws specific exclusively to service animals do not protect your companion pet. Although your ESA will have housing rights, their rights when traveling will be specific to the airline you select.
Telehealth companies can make it easier to apply for an ESA Letter for housing or travel. Make sure that the ESA provider doesn’t cut corners and that you get to speak to a medical professional such as a licensed mental health professional. A health expert can help by giving you an ESA Letter so your pet can travel or live with you, but they should also check in with you and your needs and help plan treatment for your mental illness.
Hopefully, with a little effort (and a proper mental health assessment), you can find the perfect companion animal that will make life easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can any animal be an emotional support animal?
Yes, an emotional support animal (ESA) can be any animal, although the most common species are dogs, cats, and the occasional rabbit. As long as your pet can provide emotional support to your mental and emotional state, then they qualify. They do not need special training, nor do they need to be trained to perform a specific task. Typically, when it comes to an emotional support animal ESA, people opt for dogs because of their suitability in homes and other public places.
- Can I have two emotional support animals?
There is no limit to the number of companion pets a person is allowed, and a mental health professional may recommend more than one, with each animal catering to a specific need. Just keep in mind that airlines and landlords may not allow more than one pet. Airlines, for instance, may have a one ESA pet policy if they allow an emotional support animal ESA onboard a flight.
- Can a service dog be taken to school?
Trained service animals have Educational Facility Access according to the ADA. Emotional support animals don’t have the same federally protected rights as trained service animals, and laws may limit access to educational facilities and other establishments. Always refer to federal law, as well as any local laws within your area, when it comes to access rights for dogs who are trained to provide a service.
- Can I get an emotional support animal for anxiety?
Yes. Anyone with a diagnosed mental disability qualifies for an ESA Letter, and mental health professionals may recommend support dogs or other emotional support animals to those living with post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, depression anxiety, or another anxiety-related disability. Day-to-day anxiety can be greatly relieved when you have a pet that causes an endorphin release by being a part of your regular activities. Simply speak with a licensed therapist about your options when it comes to supporting dogs or other emotional support animals.