Everyone knows college students are under a lot of stress. Homework, tests, reading, studying and group projects all pile up, and we just have to buckle down and get through it.
It can be very overwhelming, and really all we need is support. Many people on campus have benefited from obtaining emotional support pets in their residencies. Pets can be a great comfort when dealing with stress. Academic stress can be overwhelming, and animal companionship will definitely relieve any of that.
The only obstacle may be where you will be able to take this animal. While individuals with service animals may take their animal into academic buildings, students with emotional support animals may not.
Mental health is becoming a very important topic in today’s world, and many people use emotional support animals to help assist them in overcoming their disease. However, it is crucial to define what mental illness is. Mental illness is not just stress, nervousness or some anxiety. Emotions such as loneliness, fearfulness and nervousness are all normal human emotions we all have to deal with.
While animal companionship helps to relieve these emotions, according to the ADA, “emotional support animals or comfort animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, (but) they are not considered service animals.”
This is a concern simply because many people are finding any way to register their furry friends as support animals that may not be entirely beneficial or officially certified. Support animals are still a valid form of treatment and are great at relieving mental discomfort.
However, one should consider their personal struggles and always talk first to a licensed mental health professional. They’re also the only ones who can prescribe emotional support animals.
Emotional support is incredibly important and should be talked about. However, we should find and discuss many other healthy ways to do so. Using pets as emotional support is a fantastic way of coping, but one should also consider other recommendations from a licensed therapist. According to Psychology Today, “emotional support animal letters can pose a conflict of interest between therapist and patient.”
Some people are suggesting emotional support animals before seeking a therapist recommendations first, and this may overstep their intended use of therapeutic healing, and instead be used as a crutch.
Support animals do of course serve a purpose and can be used in a responsible sense. However, no one should rely on an emotional support animal like one would a service animal. In fact, according to Texas Tech Student Disability Services, emotional support animals are allowed in residence halls only. They do not perform tasks, and they must be registered with University Student Housing and SDS. So, they are allowed on campus, but they are only allowed in your living space.
They are best kept in your room, that way you can keep an eye on them and cuddle them whenever you want. Anyone having an emotional support animal will also have to care for all their needs and keep them in the room.
This may sound like a bummer or a sort of invalidation of severity of emotional distress, but connecting with an animal in a familiar environment is the best way to relieve an emotional discomfort. Having a stressful or bad day is not great for our emotions, but when you open the door and your pet sees you, all the stress or anxiety seems to melt away.
Walking in and having someone who is happy to see you is a great way to end a long day. Also, having someone to cuddle with and talk to, because let’s face it, we all talk to our pets, is a great way to decompress. Even just looking at pictures of pets can help relieve stress. All pets can be used as emotional support, registered or not.
Life can be stressful and at times just completely overwhelming. Sometimes things just bombard us, and we don’t know where to turn, but when you see that animal companionship can help, let’s just keep our companions for ourselves.