Millions of US citizens have mental health challenges such as anxiety, PTSD, depression, phobias, and OCS, which affect their daily lives. With the issues we face in 2020, there is a concern that the number of people struggling with mental health may be on the rise.
Fortunately, many treatments are available for these people, and one of the common ones these days is using an emotional support animal.
Our furry friends are always ready to listen to us without judgment and lighten our spirits when we are feeling low. However, because of the rising demand for emotional support animals, ESA letter scams are increasing as well. We have compiled a guide for those looking to obtain ESA letters for their own or loved ones.
The ESA letter can help you travel with your support animal on flights as well as join you in pet free housing. The letter is a necessity for traveling or accommodation with your emotional support animals.
We have prepared a guide to help you understand the application process.
Do You Qualify for an ESA Letter in Texas?
To succeed in acquiring an emotional support animal (ESA) letter, you must prove that you have a psychological disorder like depression, PTSD, anxiety, or OCS. You need to have a well-written letter from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP, like a psychiatrist, therapist, or psychologist.
The letter should demonstrate that the presence of your emotional support animal is necessary for your emotional and mental well-being.
Your health professional should confirm that you are under treatment according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Some of the conditions that fall under this category include:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that causes hyperactivity, persistent inattention, and impulsivity. It is common in children, but can sometimes last up to their childhood.
Symptoms of ADHD vary from person to person because there are different types of the condition. All kinds of ADHD show symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
When the condition is characterized by inattention, disorganization, and distraction, it is usually referred to as primary inattentive.
The second type is known as primarily hyperactive or impulsive. Symptoms of impulsiveness or hyperactivity characterize it, but they often disappear with age.
The third type of ADHD is the combined type. This depicts symptoms of both primary inattentive and primarily hyperactive/impulsive. Children with ADHD struggle in school and could also have trouble making friends. If left untreated, the condition could interfere with their emotional and social well-being.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition caused by terrifying events. Symptoms include severe anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks. PTSD symptoms are classified as negative changes, memories, avoidance, and changes in emotional and physical reactions.
Most people who have PTSD experience difficulty in coping and adjusting, but with proper self-care and support, they can get better.
Depression is a mood disorder condition that results in persistent sadness and loss of interest. The condition is also commonly referred to as clinical depression or depressive disorder.
Depression affects how you think, feel, and behave, leading to various physical and emotional problems. Patients may often feel like worth isn’t worth living. The condition can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both, but may require long-term treatment.
Anxiety is a mental condition that leads to excessive worry, fear, nervousness, and apprehension. Anxiety can alter how a person reacts and behaves, and often causes physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure.
Severe anxiety may affect day-to-day living if left untreated.
Social anxiety disorders
Social anxiety disorder is a mental challenge that causes everyday interactions to cause significant fear, anxiety, self-consciousness, and embarrassment because you feel being judged by others.
The condition can lead to avoidance and affect the person’s daily routines such as school and work. It can be treated by taking medications and psychotherapy.
Cognitive disorders are a category of mental disorders that affect cognitive abilities such as memory, learning, problem-solving, and perception. A person shows symptoms of loss of rational thought process and may lead to the inability to carry out basic tasks or remember things.
Requirements for ESA Qualification Letter
Here are the conditions that your ESA qualification letter must meet:
- Should include the mental health professional’s letterhead, with name and contact information.
- Include the license number, license type, issuing state, and the date of license of the mental health doctor.
- Should also include the signature of the doctor and date.
- You must also show proof that you have mental conditions, and show that the condition prevents you from undertaking daily life tasks.
Emotional Support Animals Laws in Texas That You Need to Know
Because emotional support animals offer assistance to their owners, they have privileges according to federal laws in Texas. You can have them in your house and transportation without paying extra fees to housing providers.
According to federal laws, service animals have no restrictions on accessing public places. However, ESA’s are allowed to fly in the cabin of a plane or live in no-pet housing.
Texas ESA airline laws
Under the Air Carrier Access Act, the law provides that all airlines must allow emotional support animals to fly with their owners without paying any extra pet fees.
It’s worth noting that these emotional support animal laws only for animals that don’t endanger others’ safety. Most of the time, you only need to inform your airline in advance and bring your emotional support animal letter since each airline has specific rules as it relates to ESA types.
Texas ESA housing laws (the Fair Housing Act)
Owners must file a proper request for accommodation and show your ESA letter to live with their ESA. In general, with the right paperwork, your ESA should be allowed to stay with you as long as they are needed. You may want to check your town’s specific rules too just to be on the safe side, as there may be variations to the rules.
The Fair Housing Act protects people with disabilities and mental challenges who need to be assisted by emotional support animals.
How to Get an ESA Letter in Texas: Step-By-Step Guide
Step 1: Getting the letter from your mental health professional
If you already have a therapist or licensed mental health professional (LMPH), they can help you get a valid ESA letter following a consultation. The health professional must also attest to your mental condition.
If your licensed mental health professional prescribes an ESA letter, you should have it within a week of your approval.
Step 2: Using online resources
It’s also possible to get your ESA letter online from a licensed therapist. If so, make sure you’re using a reputable website because there are many scammers out there. Make sure your letter is legitimate because possession of a fake letter can draw fines up to $125,000 or a jail sentence.
You can guarantee your letter’s legitimacy by ensuring you spend time in an appointment with a licensed therapist. The interview can be through a HIPAA compliant video call or an in-person interview. If you qualify you can choose to have an ESA letter for housing, which will allow you to live with your emotional support animal. A travel letter will give the support animal rights when traveling. If you’d like both, you can also get them in the same prescribed letter.
According to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), landlords and airlines cannot legally deny you from renting an apartment or traveling with your emotional support animal, provided you have a valid ESA letter. Airlines have adopted specific rules that may vary, so read up and start planning before your flight.
You can quickly get the official Emotional Support Animal Letter from your licensed mental health professional (LMPH), provided you qualify, to show that you have mental conditions that prevent you from running your daily life. The support animal should help you alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.