We’re all aware of how important our physical health is. In fact, a whole industry has sprung up around our desire to stay fit, healthy and well. Yoga, raw organic foods and even cupping are a few examples of methods that, while seeming unusual at first, have become a totally normal part of self-care. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably tried at least one or two new methods of looking after your body.
But one area that we’re still not so confident in is caring for our mental health.
While it is now becoming far less of a taboo topic in our society, mental health can still be a touchy subject to talk about. Added to that is the fact that treatment can often be a tricky thing compared to physical health, and it’s easy to see why we often neglect and ignore it.
The good news about mental illness is that more research is being done every year, bringing with it more innovative and effective treatment approaches with it. One of the latest psychological approaches to treating mental health conditions is the use of ESAs or emotional support animals.
Emotional support animals are part of a new wave of treatment that is helping people everywhere that suffer a range of conditions and improving their lives for the better.
Here, we go into all the information you might be curious to know about ESAs, including exactly how to get one by following our foolproof step-by-step guide!
Types of Mental Illness
Mental illness is a broad term for a range of different conditions that vary greatly. These conditions can also differ in severity, from mild to severe cases. Some of the most common mental illnesses include:
Anxiety Disorders (Panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, specific phobias, social anxiety)
Mood Disorders (Bipolar disorder, depression)
Eating Disorders (Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa)
Psychosis, schizophrenia and personality disorders
Who Qualifies for an ESA?
Emotional support animals are available to those who are classified as having a mental illness that limits their ability. If you have already been diagnosed and are in treatment for one of the conditions listed above, then you are most likely eligible for an emotional support animal.
If you are yet to be diagnosed, but suspect you may be suffering from a mental health condition, the best course of action is to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional.
Steps to Getting an ESA
ESAs are a relatively accessible mental health treatment, once you are aware of the process. Here are the steps toward getting an animal to help heal you.
1. Get Diagnosed
If you’ve been feeling out of sorts lately or not yourself, it’s a great idea to see a mental health professional in order to discuss your concerns. In a diagnosis session, your doctor will listen to your symptoms and might use relevant diagnostic tools to diagnose your condition. Although your first visit to a therapist may be daunting, once a diagnosis is made it can be a huge weight off your shoulders (Here is how to ask doctor for emotional support animal)
2. Seek Treatment
After your diagnosis, the next step is to receive a treatment plan, which involves your therapist working with you using a range of methods to help to improve your condition. There are a number of treatments which may make up your plan, depending on your condition. This plan is essential to keeping you on track on the path to improving your mental health.
3. Ask About Using an Emotional Support Animal for Treatment
During the time that you are set-up with your mental health plan is the perfect opportunity to ask your therapist about whether an ESA could be an appropriate source of treatment for your condition. If so, your therapist will make the necessary arrangements which are outlined in more detail below.
4. Follow Your Treatment Plan
If your therapist decides that an emotional support animal would be beneficial to improving your condition, they will include it in your treatment plan. They will also give you ideas on how your animal can help in various situations to better your mental health. For example, if you have issues with panic attacks, they may discuss how your dog can help to intervene if one occurs. Following your therapist’s treatment plan is essential to helping yourself to get better and improve the quality of your life.
5. Get (And Use!) Your ESA Letter
Once you’ve discussed using an emotional support animal with your therapist and you’ve been given the tick of approval, you’ll need to ensure that you obtain an ESA letter. Your ESA letter grants your pet the right to accompany you during travel and in your accommodation, without you having to pay additional fees. Your therapist should draw up your ESA letter, which includes information about your need for an emotional support animal, and give you a copy of this. This will allow you to have your ESA with you when you really need it.
6. Choose an Emotional Support Animal
This is the fun part – choosing your ESA! Technically, any animal can be classified as an ESA, however some animals are far more popular than others. It’s important to note when choosing an ESA that only cats and dogs are permitted to fly on most airlines at this time. The best choice for you is an animal that suits your lifestyle and needs. ESAs do not need special training, so can be rescue animals or from a breeder.
Getting an ESA is a fairly easy process for mental health issues and certainly a worthwhile one. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be on your way to being a happier and healthier human in no time!