Nearly 20% of adults and 20% of children in the United States have experienced some form of mental illness. Cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and physical activity are just some of the various methods used in treating mental health disorders.
In recent years, there has been a shift toward working with animals as a form of mental health support. Unlike a Service Animal, an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) does not require special training and can be assisted by various people. Like a Service Animal, these guides can be registered. If you, or someone you know, struggles with mental illness there are numerous benefits of working with an ESA, including:
When you have a mental illness, particularly one that affects your ability to socialize with others, it can be hard to connect. Social interactions are crucial not only for functioning in society but to feel as though we play a part in the world around us.
Emotional support animals can help us get the socialization we need to be fulfilled, even on days when we can’t quite make it out into the public eye. This feature is particularly useful for individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder, which can make socialization a hugely negative experience for those affected.
Introduction of Responsibility
Caring for an animal requires a certain amount of responsibility. Having a pet or an Emotional Support Animal is an excellent step in the rehabilitation process for various disorders, including PTSD.
By taking on this responsibility, caregivers will experience a sense of renewed confidence. They will know that another living thing depends on them, and each passing day will contribute to a larger feeling of success. As the saying goes, success is a series of small wins. These positive interactions, however small they may be, add up over time and have a lasting impact.
Unconditional Love and Comfort
Words often fail in terms of providing comfort and support. People struggle to find the words that accurately convey their complex emotions. On the other side of things, people fail to listen actively or can’t find the right words to say to someone in pain.
Emotional Support Animals are expert listeners and offer love and acceptance unconditionally. They can be a source of comfort, regardless of age, intellect, social standing, or ailment.
Not only have Emotional Support Animals helped those struggling with mental illness in their time of need, but they have also been used in hospitals and hospices to help terminally ill and bedridden patients. There are also different programs in which Emotional Support Animals support incarcerated individuals as they learn how to re-enter society.
Physical Health Implications
Owning a pet–dogs in particular– have been proven to have positive impacts on one’s heart health, including lower cholesterol and blood pressure. There are a few theories behind this phenomenon, most that speak to the connection between our emotional and physical health.
As stress decreases, so does blood pressure, which has a huge impact on overall health. Loneliness is ultimately another stressor, which having an Emotional Service Animal helps combat. Furthermore, people with active animals are more likely to be active themselves, improving their overall physical health. Walking a dog can be a great form of physical exercise while allowing people to unplug and unwind.
Having a registered emotional support animal will enable you to keep your animal with you in areas where pets are otherwise not allowed. These locations include apartments zoned as pet-free as well as commercial airlines. Note, that proof of need may be required in order to use these benefits. A landlord may have the legal right to know more details about your disability. While you are not required to register an Emotional Support Animal, documentation may be required by a commercial airline.
To find out if you’re eligible for an Emotional Support Animal, and to learn more about the registration process, visit https://www.emotionalsupportanimalco.com/blog/esa-registration.