Anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6%) followed by depression (36.4%). Students’ mental health should be schools top priority. Part of the problem could be that presently, emotional support animals, or ESA’s, are not allowed on college campuses.
US News says that, “College and university campuses, in fact, are seeing a rise in requests from students who want to bring an ESA into their dorm room.” The Access Center at Washington State University gets 60 to 75 requests a year for bringing ESA’s to college. If students want this to happen so badly, why shouldn’t college supervisors take it into consideration? Shouldn’t the needs of their students be their prime concern?
“Many students today enter college already taking psychiatric medication and/or expecting mental health services when they arrive on campus.” says C. W. Von Bergen, Ph.D. from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. This means that some students come to college anticipating some sort of aid from the school. Giving them the option of an ESA, will go a long way.
Studybreaks.com tells us that in 2011, a student filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska at Kearney because they denied her therapeutic dog’s presence. What’s to say this will not happen again? It is expected that universities like this do not want students filing lawsuits against them. It can cause chaos and can be easily avoided.
Many colleges and universities say that animals can be distracting to students with disorder. But what they don’t know is the difference between regular pets, and therapeutic emotional support animals. ESA’s are specially trained to serve people when they need it, and can be super helpful to college students who live on campus for 4 years or more.
It’s not just all talk though, there is something that can be done. Meredith Goodwin, the director of the Access Center at Washington State University, handles the needs of students with both psychological and physical disabilities. She and the deans of the school should make it their most pressing matter and work together on adding applications for ESA’s that kids can fill out when they are applying to the school. This way the college admissions center can go through them and validate each one. If Washington State University starts to allow emotional support animals, other schools will notice and do the same thing.
Especially during COVID, anxiety rates have gone up 71% in the last year. Authorizing ESA’s is the best thing anyone can do to help kids. It’s up to the people in charge to decide whether or not to help students in need. Taking this vital matter into consideration is better than nothing at all.