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College Students Relying On ESAs To Get Away From Their Psychological Issues

Colleges can be totally fun but at the same time, it can be daunting as well — attending lectures one after another, keeping up the grades, meeting expectations, and more.

According to a survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness 1 out of every 4 students has a diagnosable mental illness.

It usually gets more difficult if you are away from your home, family, and friends. So, when they say “ some angels choose fur instead of wings”, it is actually true when it comes to pet animals.

Are Mental Health Professionals Getting Along With The Idea of Having an ESA in Dorms?

Psychologists or mental health professionals have been using animal-assisted therapy as a therapeutic remedy along with the conventional treatment approach to enhance the benefits of adjunct therapy.

So, they are actually advocating the presence of these furry, cuddly creatures in colleges as well. But, still, a lot of questions are being asked concerning emotional support animals.

Something like,

  • In what way an ESA can be helpful for college students?
  • Is it legal to bring an ESA into a dorm?
  • What are the Legal Rights of college students?

To make things more clear for you, all the answers to these commonly asked questions have been answered thoroughly.

In What Way An ESA Can Be Helpful For College Students?

Studies have confirmed that having a pet as a companion helps to alleviate anxiety as well as negative thinking among students. And, as it is a well-known fact, ESAs help to enhance the feeling of love as well as support.

Furthermore, a pet can definitely change the perception of a student towards their own well-being along with providing that necessary comfort as well as acceptance which goes missing due to certain psychological factors.

Mental & Emotional Benefits of an ESA

  • Helps to achieve therapy goals much faster than otherwise.
  • Decreases the feelings of being lonely.
  • Influences social engagement.
  • Enhances focus as well as clarity

Physical Benefits Of A Emotional Support Animal

  • Helps in managing blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Helps in indulging in different types of exercises.

Is It Legal To Bring An ESA Into A Dorm?

As per Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 along with the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), any housing provider cannot deny you an accommodation because of your pet.

But, the question that needs to be answered is-

Does this rule apply to college dorms as well?

Well, Yes.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has asked FHA to include dormitory rooms along with cover residence halls into the Act. This rule came into effect only after the famous lawsuit against the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

About the Lawsuit

The University had refused a student to live with her ESA on campus. So, in response this issues, HUD ruled that housing providers including university dormitories must take into account the general reasonable accommodation principles while evaluation whether or not giving the right to a person for living with an emotional support animal.

Following is the list of some of the pet-friendly colleges

Eckerd College
The students here are allowed to live with their ESAs. They also have eight separate pet-friendly housing facilities.

Lees-McRae College
You are allowed to be with your emotional support on-campus after 2 semesters.


Stephens College
It also has a facility which allows students with their pets.

Stetson University
They allow pets in 2 of their residence halls. Also, they are actively involved in hosting a service dog program.

Principia College
Most of its facilities are pet-friendly which allows a variety of pets ranging from hamsters, rabbits to dogs and cats.

Washington and Jefferson College

The dorm where pets are allowed has been named as “Pet House”

Johnson and Wales University

They have allotted a total of three residence halls, especially for pets. Bunnies, cats, and most dogs are all allowed in this university.

Along with these, various other universities such as University of Washington, Illinois, MIT, Caltech, Case Western Reserve University, Middlebury College, University of Florida are popular for their pet-friendly campuses as well as housing facilities.

What Are The Legal Rights Of College Students?

Any college student who feels the need for an ESA must be approved by a mental health professional. So, If you are suffering from the following mental health issues according to the updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 or 5, such as-

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
  • Body-Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Personality Disorders

Then, you are qualified to have an emotional support animal with you in your college dorm as well.


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