When you suffer from a mental health issue like depression, anxiety, or another psychiatric issue, you may wonder what you can do to best manage and overcome the issues you face on a daily basis. While there is no one set way to deal with mental health issues, many people do find comfort and help in working with an emotional support animal. If you think that this may be helpful to you in your treatment process, get to know more about the process of getting an emotional support animal. That way, you can know what to expect and can better decide for sure if you would benefit from this mental health support.
You Need To Know The Purpose Of An Emotional Support Animal
Before you seriously consider going through the certification process of getting an emotional support animal, you should get to know the exact purposes of this treatment method. These animals are designed to provide patients with companionship as well as comfort, particularly during particularly bad periods of depression, panic or anxiety attacks, or other mental health spells.
They are not the same as service animals in that service animals require specialized training to perform specific tasks for assistance. An emotional support animal needs no training beyond the basic training for any animal that lives in a home with people. For dogs, this means basic commands like sit, stay, heel, and the like. For cats, this means they need to be able to use a litter box properly and not destroy furniture or other objects throughout the home.
Your Doctor or Mental Health Care Provider Must Certify You Need A Support Animal
The first step to get an official emotional support animal is to be told by a medical or mental health care provider that you require one. When you have severe depression and/or anxiety, it will likely be easy to get a doctor to sign off on the certification process.
You need to be diagnosed with a mental health condition or disability in order to get this certification, and it needs to be in your medical history. Once your therapist or doctor agree that an emotional support animal would be to your benefit, they will fill out what is essentially a prescription for it. They must sign and date the order for it to be valid, and then it can be submitted for approval to be registered or to any other party who need to know.
You Need To Talk To Your Landlord And Inform Them
Many people who go through the process of getting an emotional support animal do so because they live in a rental apartment or house that does not allow pets. If this is the case for you, you will want to submit a copy of the letter (order) from your doctor or therapist to your landlord as proof that you need an emotional support animal.
Because of laws such as the Fair Housing Act, landlords are actually required to allow emotional support animals even if they do not allow pets in their rental units. However, to avoid confusion or misunderstandings, you should inform your landlord of the issue as soon as possible during the process.