Written by Miranda Coffee. Media by Whitney Nichols.
College can be rough. We all have so many things going on at once and get so stressed out that we need something to help us through it all. Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety can also lead to some bad times throughout our college experience. We can’t all go through it alone. For some, they need a little something to help them feel better and get through the rough patches of life. Having a fish in a tank sometimes just does not cut it. In the past years, more and more college students have requested to keep an emotional support animal in their dorms for this reason. Emotional support animals have been helping college students around the world and the proof of help is very real.
Meet Ivy and Epic.
Ivy Lyons is a junior at Greenville University and got his dog, Epic, over Christmas break. Epic is Ivy’s emotional support animal and has been an absolute blessing in his life. ESAs can help their owners in many ways. Ivy personally loves the fact that he gets to help Epic while Epic is also helping him. He says, “He needs a lot, so I get to need a lot. He gets to need me and I get to need him. When I’m super stressed, I just go to Epic.” Epic doesn’t just help Ivy here at Greenville. He has also been helping those around Ivy and students who may just need to see a big dog. “It works for other people. He just wants to play all the time and people love that.”
More students have been bringing emotional support animals on their college campuses for help with their mental illnesses, but it is not as easy as what it seems. These animals are meant to help those who really need it. ESAs are not the same as service animals. According to C. W. Von Bergen of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, emotional support animals “are typically dogs and cats, but may include other animals of any species that provide support, well-being, comfort, aid, or a calming influence through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life simply by being close to their handler.” These are not just pets you can keep on campus because you miss seeing your dog or cat every day. For almost every school, you must have a diagnosis from a professional doctor in the mental health field that shows that you need an ESA on campus. If you wish to see more information on having an emotional support animal on college campuses, check out the link here.
Ivy and Epic are a great duo. Epic needs Ivy just as much as Ivy needs him. I asked Ivy his favorite story about his ESA, and he gave me a good one. “He’s ‘dumb smart.’ I got McDonald’s one day and left the bag of food on my desk. I went to do something and left Epic with the bag of food in the same room. I walk back in the room and the McDonald’s bag is knocked over. My cheeseburger, my fries, all unwrapped and set neatly on my chair. He is in the middle of the floor eating the wrapper.” Epic looked a little embarrassed when Ivy told his story. You can ask Ivy if Epic has been helping him and he will always say yes. ESAs are wonderful for many people. They can help you through the toughest times in your life. If you feel like you may need one, ask your doctor about the possibility of getting one.