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About Mental Illness in America

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Mental illnesses, they aren’t a fun topic to talk about and they definitely aren’t anything fun to have. I have struggled with mental illnesses since I was a kid. I have major depressive disorder and multiple types of anxiety. I’ve only found one thing that has really helped me when having a panic attack or feeling depressed, my cat. Many Americans have some sort of mental illness. Today I will talk to you about a problem in America and one was we can help it. First, I’m going to tell you about how mental illnesses affect a person. Second, I’m going to tell you about Emotional Support Animals, or ESA. Before I tell you about ESA’s let’s talk about how mental illness affects people.

Mental illnesses are a very serious problem nowadays. Mental illnesses have a lot of negative effects. One thing mental health affects is school. Many who have a mental illness have lower grades, skip classes, and even sometimes drop out. This semester I have had the worst separation anxiety, OCD, and depression in a long time, and because of this I’m dropping out at semester and moving back to Meridian because of it. Your physical health is also affected. Some develop eating disorders, some self-harm, and some even attempt, and sometime succeed, suicide. None of those things are good for your body. You can be left with permanent consequences from these things. Relationships are also affected. You can lose your social life because you constantly stay home instead of going to school or work, or because you always cancel plans with friends. Your relationship with your family can also be affected. Sometimes social anxiety can be so bad that you are always afraid to talk to your parents about anything and that can really affect your relationship with them.

When asked if they had been diagnosed with a mental illness, 58% of people said no. When asked if their mental illness affected their everyday life, 66% of people said yes. When asked if their pets helped when feeling anxious or depressed, 88% of people said yes. Now that you know about the problem, let’s talk about how we can help reduce it. There are many ways to help with mental illnesses. Therapy is one option that doctors recommend. The problem with this is that not everyone is able to talk about how they are feeling. Personally, I have a really hard time talking about my depression and anxiety in detail, so for me therapy would be a very quiet and awkward meeting. Another problem is that a therapist can’t be with you every time you have a panic attack or are feeling depressed. Another option doctors recommend is medication, the problem with medication is that they can be addictive. According to American Addiction Center, 21.5 million Americans, 12 years and older, battled with substance abuse in 2014. (Statistics) Addiction is something that runs in families and some people will not take any prescription drugs knowing that they are susceptible to becoming addicted to the substance.

My solution is Emotional Support Animals. ESA’s are a great way to help manage mental illnesses. According to American Veterinary Medical Foundation, an ESA is an animal of any species that is supported by a qualified physician, based upon a disability-related need. (Service) And getting an ESA is simple. First, you have to qualify by having a mental illness that has been diagnosed by a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, or another mental health professional. Then, you need to get an ESA letter from a qualified physician or psychiatrist. This solution helps people focus on something besides their mental illness. First, it gives you something to take care of and it puts a living creature in your life that depends on you. Second, it gives you someone who is always there for you when you feel like your mental illness is winning. Third, you can train them to know when you are having an episode, so that they can react and help you calm down.

One reason people don’t take ESA’s seriously is someone having a fake ESA. You can’t just print off a certificate and call it good. There are no certificates for an ESA, you have to have an ESA letter from a therapist. Also therapists won’t just write letters to everyone who asks. They assess your situation and severity, and see if an ESA would actually help their condition. Other people think that ESA’s are not needed, they is wrong though because some ESA’s are the only reason for some people to live. Personally, having my cat, I know that a living creature is dependent on me to take care of them and love them, and knowing that helps me when it comes to the point of suicidal thoughts because I know that if I went through with it, I’d be leaving my baby girl alone. Now that you know what an ESA is and how they help, let’s visualize what it would be like without them.

Picture this, you’re having a panic attack or you’re feeling depressed and your dog comes over and puts his head on your lap so that you can pet him. You do and that makes you feel less anxious or depressed and you’re able to go on with your day as planned. Now picture that you’re having a panic attack or you’re feeling depressed, but you don’t have your dog. The feeling of anxiety or depression gets stronger and you’re now unable to go on with your day. Now that you know how an ESA can help with your mental illness, let’s recap. Today I talked to you about how mental illnesses are a problem in America and how an Emotional Support Animal can help with mental illnesses. Now I encourage anyone with a mental illness to look into ESA’s and see if it would benefit you, I know that it’s helped me tremendously.

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