Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Statement
ESA support letters are not written by counselors in UMM Student Counseling and we do not see students solely to assess for an ESA or to write an ESA support letter. An ESA can only be recommended as an essential part of a treatment plan designed to address a disability associated with a clearly diagnosed psychiatric condition. If you need an ESA letter, we recommend seeking outside services or working with a provider that you may already be connected with.
An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with mental or psychiatric disability. The animal is part of the treatment plan for a person who meets the definition of the disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The animal is determined to be needed in order to address specific functional limitations and allow the person to live independently.
The Student Counseling office has had an increased number of students requesting that a medical and/or mental health provider "prescribe" (write supporting documentation for) an ESA. While we understand that a pet can be an important source of support during stressful times for many students, ESAs are not prescribed or specifically recommend by our counselors. If a student requests a letter of support for an ESA from UMM Student Counseling, these procedures will be followed:
- Student Counseling does not provide letters recommending ESAs and the mental health literature directs counselors not to engage in dual roles of serving as counselors and evaluators. The literature also recommends that those requesting letters be evaluated by professionals trained in forensic evaluation.
- Students who request such letters will be referred to their current or past medical or mental health providers outside of Student Counseling or to make contact with local, external mental health providers. Our providers will assist students to the best of their ability with community resources that might offer this type of assessment and documentation for the purposes of accommodations.