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Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It impacts how we think, feel, and act. It also helps us determine how we handle stress, make choices, and relate to others. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from infancy through seniority. While mental health problems are natural, help is always available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.Sometimes, when a child’s mental health is at risk, we may place stereotypes on the child as being “bad.” When in reality, this child may be showing signs of early depression or anxiety or another mental health condition. Instead of placing a stigma on these children so early on, it is time to become aware of the actual problem. A person who becomes anxious in social situations and prefers to be alone is suddenly labeled a recluse. Depression could cause an adult to lose interest in a lot of things. Often this results in the person’s friends abandoning them, due to the fact that the person may not seem interested in having friends at all.In addition to being all-around great companions, dogs help people in numerous ways ranging from assisting emergency workers with search and rescue, to helping people with hearing, sight and mobility challenges, as well as aiding law enforcement officers fight crime. Dogs can also help people with mental health challenges. For example, therapy dogs assist people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and children with autism. Therapy dogs are not the same as service animals. Service animals always live with their owners who have physical or emotional disabilities and assist them with daily living. Therapy dogs do not always live with the people they are assisting. Therapy dogs are trained and certified and serve as an integral part of the mental health treatment process. Dog therapy or animal-assisted therapy (AAT), is directed by a health professional and is designed to help people improve their physical, emotional, social, or cognitive function. Therapy dogs work with professionals and their clients, providing comfort, support, and helping engage people. A therapy dog helping to encourage and facilitate social interaction for a child with autism is one example. These specially trained therapy dogs help people with a variety of mental health conditions, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, PTSD, depression, and autism. If someone is having a difficult time doing daily activities, like some Americans, there is a strong possibility they will have no problem being approved to have a therapy dog. Sometimes, certain experiences and events in life can result in a decline in an individual’s mental or emotional stability, which can impact their daily life. Some of the mental disabilities include: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, or a personality disorder. If someone has one of these mental disabilities, there is a strong likelihood they can be assisted by a therapy dog. The choice is yours – just know that either way, if you are qualified, you’ll be on your way to getting a legally enforced Emotional Support Animal or ESA!The ESA letter is awarded to a patient with a mental disability, not to the animal. If the therapist believes that the patient’s current pet is providing vital mental support that is necessary for the patient’s well-being, he/she will likely designate the existing pet as the patient’s ESA. In case the patient does not have a pet yet, the therapist will advise him/her to get a pet that can provide much needed mental support, and the newly acquired pet will be designated as an ESA. An ESA dog letter prescription will typically include the name of the patient plus details about the animal. It will also mention the licensed mental health professional believes that the designated animal is critical to the mental well-being of the patient in question and should be allowed as a reasonable accommodation. Therefore, a letter from a licensed mental health professional is all you need.

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