With an increase in college and university enrollment, college housing and dorms across the country are struggling to deal with an unforeseen boom in demands for accommodations related to emotional support animals.
Much like airlines, colleges are overwhelmed with requests for the assistance animals, and only a few are enacting policies in place to deal with them, like Yale University.
Out of 248 colleges and universities in the United States, over 90 accommodations are handled annually, which is an increase from a few years ago when it was at most three accommodations for assistance animals.
$500 Scholarship Offered for Emotional Support Animal
TheraPetic aims to help young adults experiencing stress and anxiety with pressures from course work, transitioning college/university environment, and financial limitations with the annual announcement of a scholarship. We believe in the true value and psychological impact of using therapy animals, like a service dog or an emotional support animal to treat extreme stress and anxiety. An increasing number of people who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues find emotional comfort from their pets and service animals. Apply here for the scholarship and to learn more about it.
Universities and colleges are hesitant to set firm guidelines and policies related to ESAs, since they are concerned about a lawsuit. In 2016, Kent State University agreed to pay $145,000 to settle a lawsuit involving alleged discrimination against disabled students by not allowing emotional support animals to live in on‐campus housing. Additionally, the college paid $100,000 to two former students who were not allowed to keep a therapy dog, $30,000 to an organization that advocated on the behalf of those students, and $15,000 to the U.S. government, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Kent State did adopt a policy allowing students with psychological disabilities to keep and house emotional support animals in campus housing, as long as allowing the animal in campus housing would not fundamentally alter the nature of the housing.
Even apartment landlords must be concerned about leasing property to students with an emotional or psychological disability, which is not as apparent as physical disabilities. The federal government said student who are suffering from separation anxiety, especially students, should be allowed to have animals for emotional support.
Officials said the animals, which are usually dogs, could help young men and women cope with the changes college life can bring.
The decision was made after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sued the University of Nebraska when a student wasn’t allowed to have a small dog in her apartment. She said the pup eased her anxiety and depression.
A Twitter moment highlighted how campuses are using therapy animals to help students get settled at school and decrease stress throughout the year.
Students can attend a “pet-a-pet” event or simply visit during office hours of a resident pooch, like Indy, who is the University of South Carolina’s newest and cutest staff member. The university tweeted about Indy’s arrival on campus, along with a student health services link, which highlights both the physical and mental health services provided. Not only will Indy be providing students with plenty of cuddles and slobbery kisses, but the pup could be an imperative part of keeping students happy and healthy this year.
Evidence Emotional Support Animals Are Therapeutic
Research indicates that spending quality time with dogs can have major mental health benefits, including a slower the heart rate, a decrease blood pressure, and the relaxing of muscles. Time with therapy dogs can even help decrease the stress hormone cortisol and increase oxytocin, sometimes called “the love hormone.”
Stress reduction from spending time with an animal can take effect within minutes and can last up to 10 hours. That’s good news if you’re looking for a quick serotonin boost or need some instant stress relief while you look for long-term stress-reducing options.
In recent years, university counseling centers have seen an increase in students seeking help for mental health concerns. The American Psychological Association found that 61% of college students who seek counseling services report anxiety as their reason for seeking help. Depression, stress, and academic performance were also reasons students visited their counseling centers.