There are currently millions of Americans who suffer from mental illness in this country. They deal with a myriad of conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many others. One of the ways that these individuals have been able to find some relief is by owning an emotional support animal (ESA). These animals can act as a much-needed calming and loving friend, which in turn can help to alleviate some of their owner’s symptoms. If you think you’d like to apply for an ESA letter, read on for more information.
If you are dealing with a mental illness that impacts your daily life, you could find benefits from owning an ESA. The animals that can act as emotional support animals can actually be a wide variety of species – everything from dogs and cats to snakes and hedgehogs. Animals have been proven to improve the health of their owners, including helping to lower risk of disease, reduce symptoms of chronic pain, and improve sleep. Along with your physical health, pets can also help with your emotional symptoms. Because pets can get you to be more social (like when you take your ESA to the dog park), you might find that you isolate less, which can be a huge component of depression. Likewise, ESAs can force you to become more physically active; this is beneficial since exercise can be a helpful tool in combatting depression and anxiety. Because emotional support animals can create opportunities for you to be out more in the world, many people find their ESAs help reduce their loneliness and tendency to stay home alone. An ESA can also provide a comforting presence that doesn’t carry the same amount of pressure as interacting with humans. Having a constant companion who’s just there to support you (with no judgment) can be lifesaving for people suffering from serious mental health issues.
Another added benefit is that you’re protected under certain federal laws when it comes to your emotional support animal. The Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) states that landlords or building owners cannot discriminate against individuals simply because they have an ESA. That means that you can present your ESA certification letter, and the landlord cannot refuse housing based on your ESA (even if there’s a no-pets rule already in place). As long as your ESA is well-behaved and does not disturb your neighbors, you’re protected under the law. Emotional support animal owners are also protected under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) of 1986, which allows people to take their ESAs in the cabin with them on the plane at no additional charge. While there are some caveats (some types of animals are not permitted on board specific airlines), for the most part, these laws have made it much easier for ESA owners to find housing and to travel. It is important to keep in mind, however, that emotional support animals are not considered service animals (since they don’t provide you with help performing specific tasks). Because of this, ESAs are not allowed in all public places. Some businesses and retailers might be accommodating, though, so it’s always good to check with them before entering.
In order to get an ESA certification, you’ll need something called an ESA letter from a mental health professional (such as a therapist or psychiatrist) who can validate your need for an ESA. You can contact the person you’re currently working with to ask if they’ll write a letter for you. If you do not have a trusted professional to help with this, you can head to MooshMe to connect virtually with one in your state. They can set up an online consultation with a licensed mental health professional, who can go over your potential need for an ESA. They’ll even provide you with an electronic ESA letter, so you’ll have your ESA certification in hand in a timely manner. This is a great option if you need to get an ESA letter quickly. For example, you might need to expedite your ESA letter if you’re going to be flying with your emotional support animal, or if you need to show it to your landlord for your housing situation.
There are a few things to consider if you need to fast-track an ESA letter. Unfortunately, there are some scam websites out there that will charge you for inauthentic letters. To make sure your letter is legitimate, check that it has all of these elements before you use it:
- Is written on your licensed mental health professional’s official letterhead
- Name of your therapist and what field they specialize in
- Verifiable contact information for the therapist (including address and phone number)
- Type of medical license, medical license registration number, and issue date and expiration date of the license
- Type of animal and their name
- The certificate ID number for the ESA
- The issue date and expiration date of the letter (which is no later than one year from the issue date)
Your therapist should include in the letter that they’ve been treating you for a mental health condition (they do not need to specify which condition or what your particular symptoms are), and that they believe you could benefit from having an ESA in your life. Letters are also especially influential if they include references to the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).
You’ll also be able to tell if you’ve come across a fraudulent letter if it suggests that your certification does not need to be renewed. Legitimate ESA certification letters need to be renewed every year! Sites that offer lifetime ESA letters are definitely scams. When you do need a renewed ESA certification, MooshMe is the fastest way to get an ESA letter in a hurry.
If you want to fast-track an ESA letter in 2019, you can get the process started by hitting up the MooshMe website. From there, you’ll have your ESA certification in hand and your emotional support animal by your side to help brighten your life.