You will be surprised to know that nearly 5% of adults worldwide suffer from depression. Yes, you read that right. Depression is one of the most common mental conditions that can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health.
Apart from depression, there are many other mental disorders like anxiety, panic attacks, and stress that can take a big toll on your overall well-being.
Well, seeking professional help is one of the effective ways to overcome mental health challenges. However, getting an Emotional Support Animal can work wonders for your mental health. From providing social comfort to helping you to fight mental issues, and many more, these tiny creatures offer a host of benefits to their owners.
However, there are many myths about Emotional Support Animals that restrict patients struggling with mental issues get an ESA. Please note that not every rumor is true. Before we dive deeper, let’s first understand the meaning and benefits of Emotional Support Animals.
An Overview of ESAs
Also popular as comfort animals, ESAs, short for Emotional Support Animals are therapy animals that offer mental health support to people suffering from mental disabilities, including loneliness, depression, and anxiety to name a few.
Whether you are looking for companionship or want to overcome your intense emotions, getting an Emotional Support Animal like a dog or cat can be the best choice. These little companions can help you in many ways.
- Provide unconditional love, care, and comfort.
- ESA works in conjunction with other treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
- Help you fight anxiety or panic attacks while flying.
- Increase neurochemicals, which eventually make you feel happier.
- Boost mental and physical health.
- Help you overcome stress, loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
Hopefully, the above-mentioned benefits of having an Emotional Support Animal are satisfactory enough to let you bring a little friend into your home. Still, confused about your decision? This is just because of many misconceptions about Emotional Support Animals that are making it hard for you to make a wise decision of inviting an ESA into your space.
In this blog, we have tried our best to bust some of the most common myths about ESAs.
Most Common Myths About ESAs Debunked
With so much false news about ESAs flooding around, it’s high time to separate fact from fiction. Keep reading the article to learn about common myths about ESAs and understand why they don’t have any reality.
1) Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals are the Same
One of the most common misconceptions is that Emotional Support Animals and service animals are the same. People often use both terms interchangeably.
However, there exists a huge difference between ESAs and service animals. As already mentioned, ESAs are comfort animals that offer mental and emotional support to people facing mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
On the contrary, service animals are specifically trained to help people suffering from physical or psychological disabilities and are unable to perform specific functions.
For instance, a service animal can help a blind person with directions. To qualify as a service dog, animals need to undergo specific tests before being handover to a disabled person. On the other side, no such special training is provided to ESAs.
Furthermore, some restaurants or airlines don’t allow patients to carry an ESA. However, this is not the case with service animals.
2) Emotional Support Animals are Allowed Everywhere
Another common misconception people have is that you can take your Emotional Support Animal anywhere. But this is not true.
ESAs are not allowed in every public place. Unlike service dogs that can accompany their owners to public places like restaurants or shopping malls, ESAs don’t have the same privilege.
In other words, ESAs don’t enjoy public access as psychiatric service dogs. However, as per Fair Housing Act, ESAs are allowed in accommodation that does not allow pets. Moreover, as per the Air Carrier Access Act, some airlines allow passengers to carry ESAs along with them.
3) Anyone can get an ESA
There is another popular myth buzzing around, that anyone can get an ESA. But that’s not true. Not everyone qualifies for an ESA.
The right candidate for ESA is anyone suffering from mental health disorders, including
- Stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Apart from the above, a licensed medical expert must evaluate your mental health conditions and issue a letter that allows you to have an ESA. The therapist must believe that you are in need of immense emotional and mental support.
Unless signed and approved by a licensed mental health professional, you can’t have an ESA.
4) All Airlines Allow ESAs
One of the major reasons for not allowing ESAs on planes is that people abuse ESAs as service animals and often bring on peacocks and horses as Emotional Support Animals.
However, airlines like Latam Airlines, Volaris, and Westjet still accept ESA letters.
5) ESAs can Travel for Free on Planes
No, this is not true. As per the Department of Transportation (DOT), it is not mandatory for airlines to allow passengers to bring their ESAs into the plane cabin.
There are two options for passengers.
- Some airlines will allow passengers to bring small-sized animals on board which can be kept under the seat. However, you need to pay extra for this.
- The section option is to train your ESA to be a Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA). This is because only service animals can fly for free.
Please note different airlines and different rules. Some may only allow dogs and cats while others don’t allow ESAs if they misbehave. Prior to your travel, it is advisable to get in touch with a carrier to learn more about the airline policies, charging fees, and possible restrictions for ESA.
Hopefully, most of the myths are debunked. When it comes to ESAs, it is not easy to separate reality from fiction. There is a lot of misleading and inaccurate information available online that can fool you. However, getting an ESA can help you a long way.
Please note that any animal can qualify to be an ESA. However, it must be approved and certified by a licensed mental health expert.
Want to get an Emotional Support Animal letter? Get in touch with My ESA Doctor. The team can help you get an ESA letter online from a licensed medical health expert.