Mental Health Matters: Emotional Support Pets


Ariana Papcun, Editor

Emotional support pets are certified to provide support for owners that are mentally ill or need support emotionally. Pets, such as dogs and cats, already provide loving and positive stability through rough times. Emotional support pets are beneficial for mental health and will keep a stable support system. 

While many pets are already supportive and loving, in order to have an emotional support pet, the pet needs to be certified. According to American Kennel Club (AKC), the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, and they must determine whether or not the pet is needed for the patient. These pets can ease anxiety, panic attacks and depression as well as help to give the owner a more focused outlook on life. 

Emotional support pets are beneficial to have during rough seasons while struggling with mental health. They can provide healthcare at home for people and many have found that their anxiety decreases, as stated by the Alvarado Parkway Institute Behavioral Health System (APIBHS). 

These pets need to be trained specifically to alleviate a particular mental disability according to AKC. There are many different types of emotional support pets, but they are not service pets. Service pets can be anywhere, but emotional support animals cannot— for instance, many malls or restaurants do not allow them Also, service animals need special training according to what the owner needs help with. According to APIBHS, emotional support animals do not require any training, but they still support their owners with whatever they need help with. Service animals may be supportive but are meant to perform tasks for their owners, as they may have a higher disability than those with emotional support pets. 

These pets provide emotional stability through the adjustment of emotions from pet to owner and are very helpful to have if struggling with a mental illness.