Dealing with mental health problems can be exhausting. It can leave you feeling alone and wondering where to turn for help.
That’s why having the right treatment plan that won’t lead to further complications is crucial. An emotional support animal (ESA) is a proven way to help patients deal with panic attacks, depression, and anxiety while improving their mental health.
If you wish to get an emotional support animal, you’ll need to have a licensed mental health professional write an ESA letter. This guide covers how to get an ESA letter in North Carolina and the various benefits that it brings you.
Do You Qualify For An ESA Letter in North Carolina?
Qualifying for an ESA letter in North Carolina requires you to have an emotional or mental health disability. This includes conditions such as depression, social anxiety, phobias, and PTSD, especially if your condition inhibits you from adequately engaging in normal daily activities like working or socializing.
A licensed healthcare professional is qualified to determine whether you have a condition and whether an emotional support animal could help. They can write the letter for you if you meet the qualifying criteria for ESA ownership. An ESA letter provides evidence that you need emotional support to help manage your condition. It’s the only documentation necessary to show your landlord that you own an emotional support animal.
Who Can Write an ESA Letter in North Carolina
In North Carolina, many authorized professionals can write an emotional support animal letter. Generally, any licensed mental health practitioner can approve an ESA letter describing the condition and role of your ESA in your therapy treatment plan. The following are common health professionals that can help write the letter for you:
- Licensed general physician
- Primary care physician
- Licensed therapist
- Licensed mental health professionals such as psychiatrists,
- psychologists, and therapists
What’s Inside a North Carolina ESA Letter
A North Carolina ESA letter should have the following information:
- The person’s name
- The mental healthcare professional’s name, license number, and contact information
- The type of emotional support animal required by the patient. This may be a dog, cat, or bird, etc.
Additionally, the ESA letter must confirm a person’s need for an emotional support animal. It should establish the following:
- The person has an impairment that severely limits their life activity. Qualifying conditions include mental health impairments like PTSD, anxiety, depression, and phobias.
- A statement that addresses how the emotional support animal can alleviate the effects or symptoms of the patient’s condition.
A licensed mental healthcare professional must sign and date the ESA letter. It can be in a hard copy, PDF, or digital format. A printed hard copy isn’t required, and many therapists will issue these letters digitally.
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter in North Carolina
The purpose of an emotional support animal is to provide patients with true companionship and unconditional love. They help alleviate loneliness symptoms and fight against mental health conditions like irrational fears, depression, and anxiety. Below we’ll discuss the many benefits of having an ESA letter.
With an ESA letter in North Carolina, you’ll be able to register your chosen pet as a desired emotional support animal. An ESA can provide much-needed comfort and companionship, especially for those who suffer from depression, anxiety, and loneliness. With a furry companion by your side, you’ll always feel like you have company. Having a furry friend always around brings life and happiness.
Free to Live Anywhere
An ESA letter allows you to live anywhere in North Carolina since you won’t ever have to worry about pet restriction policies. Landlords won’t be able to stop you from living with your furry best friend. An ESA letter is legally authorized, ensuring you won’t have to separate from your pet.
It’s common for apartment tenants to have to pay expensive pet fees. Fortunately, emotional support animals are treated as a necessity, not just a pet. Therefore, an ESA letter helps you to become exempt from the extra money spent on pet application fees. The letter gives you a free pass letting you bring your pet to any living situation without payment.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in North Carolina
North Carolina protects people needing emotional assistance from discrimination, particularly those relying on emotional support animals to help manage and reduce their symptoms. Fortunately, state laws ensure you won’t be discriminated against from receiving housing opportunities. Below are the various laws and what they entail.
The Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA) protects those with an emotional support animal to assist them with a mental disability. The FFA housing law states that real estate companies, landlords, and others can’t deny housing opportunities to potential renters due to their emotional support animal.
This also includes rental home properties and apartment complexes that enforce a strict no-pets policy. They also must waive any associated pet fees with their policy.
In North Carolina, patients who have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health practitioner are protected by various housing opportunities such as:
- Residential facilities
- Nursing homes
- Mobile homes
- Group homes
However, there are some housing opportunities that the FFHA doesn’t cover. This includes single-family homes rented or sold without a real estate broker, a property with four or fewer units where the landlord occupies a unit, and motels and hotels.
Also, the landlord can deny a potential tenant’s housing application if the emotional support animal displays destructive behaviors or threatens others within the complex. The landlord has the right to require information on the specific service the emotional support animal provides in the form of an ESA letter.
Avoid potential conflicts by letting the landlord know about your disability and the use of an emotional support animal well in advance.
Employers aren’t required to let their employees bring their ESA to their workplace in North Carolina. However, service animals who provide physical safety for their owner are protected and allowed to take their service animal to work.
While emotional support animals aren’t necessarily protected inside the workplace under North Carolina law, most employers are quite understanding. They will let you carry your furry companion if it doesn’t disrupt others. It’s best to discuss your needs for an emotional support animal with your employer’s HR department and arrange accommodations so everyone is on the same page.
Different accommodations can be made if the emotional support animal isn’t allowed at your workplace. For instance, your employer might let you take extra breaks during the day to alleviate stress and other symptoms. Your employer could also allow remote work options or shorter days to accommodate your needs.
Previously, The Air Carrier Access Act allowed ESAs into the plane’s cabin for free. Unfortunately, that law has been amended, treating emotional support animals as ordinary pets. As a result, airlines can charge you a pet fee for bringing emotional support animals and make your pet ride inside the cargo if there are too many pet reservations or the animal is too large.
If the plane triggers your anxiety or any other mental condition, you may want to register your ESA as a designed psychiatric cervical animal. Service animals receive unique legal protections, so you don’t have to stress about leaving your pet in the cargo.
Public Accommodation Laws
Like travel laws, public venues such as parks, hotels, and other common facilities aren’t obligated to let emotional support animals enter. However, many do make reasonable accommodations to help visitors.
How To Get An ESA Letter in North Carolina: A Step-by-Step Guide
The process to obtain an ESA letter is relatively simple and can be done in just a few steps:
Step 1: Contact Your Local Licensed Mental Health Practioner (LMHP)
A legitimate ESA letter is written and signed by a licensed mental health professional, therapist, or physician. You can’t write one for yourself or use a generic letter found on the internet.
You’ll need to contact your medical provider and ask for a professional to evaluate your condition. They will then determine if you are eligible for an ESA in North Carolina. The easiest way to find an LMHP is through a service like ESA Registration of America.
Step 2: Complete an Evaluation
The law mandates that an LMHP perform a live consultation with the patient prior to writing an ESA letter. Fortunately, this doesn’t need to be in person. Video chats and phone calls are valid ways to complete the live consultation.
The LMHP will discuss your symptoms with you so they can better diagnose your condition and help identify the right treatment plan. During the consultation, you can tell them why an ESA would help you and receive a professional’s opinion about acquiring a letter.
If you’re already working with a mental health professional treating your condition, you might want to discuss the possibility of getting an ESA letter with them. However, if they aren’t familiar with the requirements for writing this document, you should connect with a provider who is.
Step 3: Get a Doctor’s Approval
Once the consultation is complete and you’ve been approved for an ESA, you’ll receive the much-anticipated letter via email for print and use. Now you’ll have an official document that ensures you can gain special privileges such as living anywhere without worrying about discrimination or potentially bringing your pets to public accommodations.
An emotional support animal can tremendously help anyone dealing with psychological trauma or emotional turmoil. ESAs offer relief from loneliness and can act as a natural medicine for managing depression, PTSD, and anxiety.
That’s why receiving an ESA letter is vital, so your pet is recognized for its mental health-enhancing benefits. Landlords can be tenacious about letting animals in their complexes. With the correct documentation for ESAs, you’ll be approved to live anywhere in North Carolina.