How Do Emotional Support Animals Help College Students?

Thanks to recent changes in the Fair Housing Act and the Rehabilitation Act, college and university dorms are now required to allow students with disabilities to board alongside their emotional support animals.

An emotional support animal is any animal that provides comfort and mental health benefits to its owner. Usually, students suffering from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder are paired with an ESA after consultations with a mental health professional.

College can be the most stressful time in some people’s lives, and an emotional support animal can be the best way for a student to make it through every day, get to class, and focus on their studies. 

Learn more about how an ESA on campus can help college students below.

Combat Homesickness

For most students, going off to college is the first time they live alone or with total strangers for extended periods. An animal knows when you are feeling lonely and will keep you company. Nights spent alone can take a serious toll on mental health, so even simply taking the dog out for a walk can combat painful feelings.

Therapists recommend using an ESA as an all-natural, side-effect-free form of therapy. Students will benefit from the ESA without worrying about scheduling medications or pills.

If a student went through high school with an emotional support animal, it could be extremely harmful to strip away that lifeline when they head off to the dorms. The consistency of an ESA provides a routine and focus for a student to keep at least one part of life the same in the midst of complete change.

Create Responsibilities

A university campus is full of distractions; there is always a study night, party, or event that can pile on to the stress of daily classes. When anxiety and depression hit, getting out of bed can be the toughest part of the day for a swamped student. 

When an emotional support animal needs attention from a human, the owner has no choice but to be active and keep it alive. Knowing that your existence is tied into the existence of your ESA gives a structure that could be missing from life.

Just the physical act of taking a dog on a walk or feeding the cat is enough to get the blood moving and become more alert. Movement and exercise is a common treatment for depression but finding that motivation alone is often the most difficult part. An ESA takes away the burden of having to make the choice alone.


At the most basic level, it feels good to cuddle with a soft emotional support animal that loves you. After long and difficult days, the knowledge that an adorable friend is waiting in the dorm can help make the day more manageable. 

A good therapist is available at all times for a student in need, but even picking up the phone and calling them can be difficult. So an emotional support animal is there 24/7 to combat stress without doing anything but being present.

Studies have shown that blood pressure decreases with time spent around animals. There is a physical response to being with an animal that provides an instant and calming change in the body and mind.

Get A Full Night’s Sleep

Most college students report pulling at least one all-nighter each semester. This bad habit has long-term effects on memory and cognition. Poor sleep also exacerbates pre-existing mental and physical conditions. 

Petting an emotional support animal has been shown to release melatonin in the brain. This hormone promotes relaxation and assists in restful sleep. Not getting enough sleep is a positive feedback loop that just heightens any other issues a student could face and leads to chronic sleep deprivation. 

An ESA can combat poor sleep and help students feel well-rested each day and ready to learn in class without dozing off in the back rows. 

Help Time Management

College campuses are places made of deadlines. Without proper time management, procrastination can actually become addictive. There is a rush from completing projects in the eleventh hour, but this just leads to more pressure in the long run.

The stress of deadlines has been known to lead to hypertension, heart disease, and higher cholesterol. While large workloads are often overwhelming and seem impossible to meet, taking care of your mental health issues always needs to come first. 

Time spent with an ESA naturally releases endorphins in the brain, which help focus and relaxation, the perfect mental state for studying. In addition, getting into healthy habits will make the next deadline easier to conquer. 

Ease Social Anxiety

Meeting new people and making new friends is hard, especially for naturally introverted students. College is the time most people forge friendships that will last a lifetime. But when just thought of going to a social mixer makes you freeze up in fear, an ESA can help. 

An animal gives a stressed student a buffer from other people and offers a way to begin a conversation slowly and safely. When there is an animal to fall back on, the weight of being alone at busy events and parties is lifted. 

It is always easier to make friends when you know your ESA will be there no matter what happens.

Keep You Safe

When the stress of college becomes too great for students suffering from anxiety and depression, there is a real risk of self-harm or suicidal ideation. These destructive actions can be combated with the presence of an attentive ESA. 

A fluffy friend will listen to your problems and never question or invalidate your feelings. Being able to talk to an animal without interruption is a form of therapy that can help students overcome painful moments in life.

The affection from an emotional support animal is unwavering and can be the push needed to make safe decisions. When you know an animal needs your attention and care, hurting yourself no longer becomes a viable option. Sometimes, an animal that loves you is all it takes to put aside damaging thoughts.

Conclusion — Get Your ESA Letter Today

The ESA Registration of America provides everything you need to help you understand what an emotional support animal can do for you. From ESA letters approved by mental health professionals to bright vests that mark your animal as an ESA, we have it covered. 

We partner with you for every step of the process, from initial evaluation all the way to getting listed in our database. 

For years the professionals at ESA Registration of America have been the experts at helping those in distress get the help they need and live life to the fullest again. College is a taxing experience, but it can be made manageable with the help of an animal by your side. Therapeutic support should be recognized and appreciated, and that’s exactly what you get when you receive your ESA letter. 

Don’t go through it alone. Register your animal as an ESA today!