Across the United States, emotional support animals are actively involved in the medical treatment and symptom relief of mental disorders. Illinois residents also have the option of receiving ESA for therapeutic purposes. In this article, we’ve compiled the information you need to know about becoming an ESA holder in this state.
What is an emotional support animal?
Emotional support animals are one form of therapy for patients with mental disorders that affect a person’s daily life and make their normal activities impossible. Therapists often recommend emotional support animals to people who feel lonely, lack meaning in their lives, or are chronically depressed.
ESAs can provide their owner with the ongoing care and reassurance they need to speed their recovery. Moreover, an emotional support animal guarantees an additional level of security, thanks to which a person feels more confident in himself and his abilities.
Are you eligible for an ESA letter in Illinois?
Only a licensed mental health professional can determine whether an emotional support animal is satisfactory as an adjunct treatment for your mental illness. At the same time, your pet can be emotional support for you and does not have official ESA status.
Those wishing to have approved emotional support animals must have a diagnosed mental disorder and a doctor’s order certifying the animal’s positive impact on the patient’s treatment. Disorders that may be associated with ESA include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, learning disorders, panic attacks, fears and phobias, schizophrenia, and others.
Certification of emotional support animals in Illinois
The main document for the ESA is the emotional support animal letter. You can get it from your doctor when you are sure that the animal can bring therapeutic benefits to the treatment of your disease.
Learn more about How to Get an ESA Doctor’s Letter in Illinois.
How do I get an ESA letter from Illinois?
Getting an ESA letter in Illinois is fairly easy. For this, you should contact your psychotherapist or psychologist and discuss this possibility with them. Explain to the specialist why you think the animal will have a positive effect on your psyche.
If you have not yet been diagnosed with a mental disorder, but are paying attention to symptoms that may indicate non-physical suffering, it is important to find a specialist who can properly assess your condition and prescribe optimal therapy methods. Choosing the right professional is an extremely important step in the treatment of mental illness.
Find a mental health professional
The search for a licensed mental health professional should be approached responsibly. Finding a specialist that you feel comfortable with and meets your needs is extremely important. You can ask friends or colleagues for advice or search for a therapist online.
Make sure that the chosen specialist has a valid license. In addition, the specialization of a specialist is also important. If you are considering owning an emotional support animal in Illinois, the therapist you choose must be qualified.
Tell us about your illness
When meeting with a psychotherapist, give only correct information about your disorder and its symptoms. This is necessary for the specialist to correctly assess the degree of impairment and prescribe the correct treatment.
Additionally, in many states, including Illinois, providing false information to a therapist in order to obtain an ESA letter is a crime punishable by law.
How can I request an emotional support animal if I can’t do it myself?
If you can’t see a therapist in person, you can find documentation for emotional support animals online. To do this, you must answer questions about your mental disorder on the website of one of the approved providers. Your answers will be sent to leading experts who will decide whether you need an emotional support animal. If the answer is in your favor, you will receive the document in your e-mail within 10 days.
Where can I find a suitable ESA?
When choosing an emotional support animal for yourself, first of all, trust your own wishes and preferences. An ESA is not a service animal, so you don’t need to go to special animal training centers to get a companion.
You can purchase an animal from distributors or adopt from one of the Illinois shelters. Although emotional support animals do not need to perform any tasks, we still recommend teaching your pet at least basic commands. Thanks to this, the animal will be more obedient, and the time you spend together will have a positive effect on your psychological state.
Emotional support animal in Illinois: Special protections
According to the ADA and Illinois law, only service animals have unlimited rights and the ability to accompany their owners wherever they go. For emotional support animals, unfortunately, liberties are mostly limited to the housing area.
Until recently, ESAs also had the option of being with their owners during flight. However, due to the lack of adequate training on emotional support animals, the government was forced to amend the Air Carrier Access Act and strip ESAs of this privilege. Currently, only service dogs are allowed in the cabin during air travel, and ESAs on board have the same rights as pets.
According to the Fair Housing Act, ESA is considered an assistance animal, so it has expanded housing freedoms. If you have an ESA letter, the landlord must allow you to live with the animal in the rented accommodation. You also cannot charge extra for the accommodation of the animal.
At the same time, the law protects the rights of landlords, so you must follow the rules of living in the building, keep your apartment and your animal clean. If the animal behaves aggressively and poses a danger to other residents or systematically damages the housing provider’s property, the landlord has the right to evict you.
ESAs work in Illinois
Although neither federal nor Illinois law provides additional protections for ESAs in the workplace, many employers are willing to compromise with their employees. The presence of an emotional support animal in the workplace has a positive effect on the work ability, productivity and efficiency of its owner. Therefore, if you feel the need for ESA at work, discuss this possibility with the company management.