Mental Health Expert explains: “We support ESA regulation, but not to the detriment of proper access to mental health treatment for Americans”
HOUSTON, TX, September 16, 2019 /24-7PressRelease/ — Today, the Clinical Director of CertaPet.com, a tele-health company providing clinical mental health evaluations for those considering an Emotional Support Animal intervention, is responding to the House Bill 4091 in Michigan that could change the way Emotional Support Animals are regulated in the state.
Prairie Conlon, LPC, CertaPet’s Clinical Director and Animal-Assisted Therapy Expert states, “While we fully support and encourage both state and national legislature that would serve to more effectively regulate Emotional Support Animals in the US, we are deeply concerned about the potential ramifications of a bill that would limit the amount of resources accessible to disabled individuals with mental health issues.”
Under the proposed law, patients with mental health conditions would have to wait 6 months before being able to receive proper documentation from their mental health care provider to utilize an emotional support animal to service their disabling mental health condition. Additionally, unverified/ false ESAs will be punished with up to a $500 fine or 90 days in jail. Conlon states, “I take particular issue with the idea that someone with disabling mental health symptoms would be required to wait 6 months in order to access a treatment intervention that could improve or possibly save their life. If an individual is limited from accessing a treatment intervention, that can have detrimental or even deadly repercussions.”
Presently, there is no standard waiting time set for individuals with disabling mental health symptoms who have been provided with a prescription ESA letter from their treating mental health professional. Regarding the proposed waiting time, Conlon states, “It is common for medical professionals to prescribe medication to their patients after their initial visit – why is it, then, that we would require people to wait 6 months in order to utilize their Emotional Support Animal? Can you imagine visiting a doctor for chronic pain and being told you cannot receive medication for 6 months? Or going to a mental health counselor and being told you need to wait 6 months to begin therapy?”
The bill comes after nationwide criticism of Emotional Support Animals and concerns that people are taking advantage of the ESA designation, including the phenomenon of ‘fake’ ESA letters, often granted to unknowing consumers who may or may not have a mental health condition. Regarding the growing national concerns about ESA regulation, Conlon states, “CertaPet is striving to work together with law-makers and advocates towards more effective ESA regulation. However, we are in the midst of a mental health epidemic in the United States, where access to services are often limited. We would like to see regulation of Emotional Support Animals, but not to the detriment of disabled individuals who need our help. This proposed law would limit access to mental health care treatment. As a culture, we should be supporting individuals who are striving for natural and holistic treatment options, not discriminating against them.”
With the primary goal of providing clinical mental health evaluations, CertaPet strongly believes that having an Emotional Support Animal can be an essential component of mental health care. From depression to PTSD to anxiety and more, Emotional Support Animals assist individuals in managing their mental or emotional condition and reduce the symptoms these individuals experience on a daily basis. CertaPet connects individuals with a disabling condition or mental health diagnosis to Licensed Mental Health Professional in their state who provides evaluation and treatment for the individual through a secure online platform.
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