How an Emotional Support Animal Can Help Your Mental Health

pet dog

Animal companions help render emotional support to their human owners. Over the years, they have helped thousands of individuals recover, cope and move on with their daily lives. For example, patients who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are known to recover from trauma and shock thanks to the help of their supportive pets.

More and more doctors now acknowledge the therapeutic benefits that pets can provide in treating emotional problems and psychological disorders. However, some landlords and property managers apply stringent restrictions when it comes to keeping pets. For some, it then becomes difficult to get an emotional support animal (ESA) when there is plenty of consideration with the rental agreement.

This is when having an emotional service animal letter from a physician comes in handy. Any pet can qualify as an ESA as long as it does not cause a disturbance in the property or any undue difficulty for the property manager. An ESA will offer its owner much-needed emotional support, security and companionship.

Mother with her baby playing with pet on the floor

How Do You Request for an ESA Letter?

An ESA letter is not like a prescription, but it is a powerful document from a licensed physician that will let you legally keep your pet or animal companion. This is especially helpful if your lease terms and conditions prohibit having pets inside the apartment or condo. Take note, though, that not all medical practitioners are legally qualified to issue an ESA letter. Only certified mental health professionals can issue this kind of request.

Who Is Qualified to Get an ESA Letter?

womam with her pet dog

In order to qualify for an ESA letter, an applicant must be certified “emotionally disabled” by a licensed mental health professional, such as a therapist or a psychiatrist. A person with a diagnosed condition such as PTSD, bi-polar personality disorder, depression and other developmental disabilities are qualified to get it. It is advisable to seek the advice of a mental health professional if you are not sure if your condition is qualified for an ESA.

What Does an ESA Letter Contain?

man wit his pet dog

A valid ESA letter contains necessary information about the person requesting it. This letter must indicate the following.

· That you are currently undergoing mental health care by the professional issuing the letter and that you are receiving treatment for your condition, which is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version IV or V by the American Psychiatric Association.

· That you have limitations in acting or performing some activities because of your disability.

· That the mental health practitioner has designated your pet as your emotional support animal as part of the treatment plan to cope with your disability

The ESA letter should also be written with your practitioner’s letterhead and include the type of their license, license number, date issued and the state where it is issued.

Emotional support animals are more than just pets. They may not have special training like service animals do, but they can provide emotional support and bring comfort, security and confidence to their owners.