8 posts tagged “ADA”

Service, therapy and emotional support animals: What’s the difference?

Posted June 13th, 2018 by

When it comes to living with a chronic condition, animal companions can add another layer of comfort, safety and service. So, we’re opening up a conversation about therapy, emotional support and service animals, and the differences between them. Do you have an animal? Join the community and share a pic of your pet using the hashtag #PLMPets.

Service animals

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a service animal is “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability”. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.

Examples of work tasks might be things like:

  • Helping individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
  • Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors
  • Check out more tasks here.

If you bring your service animal somewhere, any public entity or private business is allowed to ask you two questions to make sure your animal is indeed a service animal:

  1. Is this animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has this animal been trained to perform?

The ADA does not require service animals to be professionally trained. People with disabilities have the right to train the dog themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program. State and federal laws differ, so make sure to check out your state’s laws on service animals.

To learn more about service animals and the ADA, check out this resource.

Therapy animals

A therapy animal is a pet that has been trained to interact with many people other than its handler to make those people feel better. Therapy animals often visit patients and residents of facilities like hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up the people living there.Therapy animals and their handlers are not given public access rights like those of service dogs and their owners, because the handler does not always have a disability the dog is individually trained to mitigate. Therapy animal handlers also generally get prior agreement from facilities like hospitals or libraries before visiting.

Some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take therapy and emotional support animals into public places — it’s important to check with your State and local government agencies to find out about these laws.

Emotional support animals

These animals provide companionship and can help with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, but don’t need to have any special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. While emotional support animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan to provide therapy to their owners, they’re not considered service animals under the ADA.

If you’re living in the United States and suffer from emotional or mental health conditions, in order to qualify for emotional support animals (ESA) all you need is an official letter written by a licensed mental health professional, like a psychiatrist, licensed clinical social worker, or psychologist. It is required that you must be living with an “emotional or mental disability that is certified by a mental health professional” to receive such a letter.

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Living with a mental health condition? See these helpful pointers for your next job interview

Posted March 19th, 2018 by

Unsure of how to navigate that job interview? You’re not alone. Members have exchanged their experiences and strategies here on PatientsLikeMe — from worrying about how to control nervous twitches to advice about not oversharing. Read on for more info about what you need to disclose to your potential employer, and hear how other members get through their interview jitters.

To disclose or not disclose? Sharing your mental health condition

“I’m damned if I’m open about it, and I’m damned if I try to hide it,” writes a person living with schizo-affective disorder in this Fast Company article. Weighing whether to disclose your condition and risk not getting the job against the stress of hiding a condition while performing a job isn’t easy. But Art Markman, PhD, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, offers some guidance:

While you don’t have to disclose your mental health condition during the interview, Markman recommends that you should at some point set up supports at work for success. To get protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you must tell your employer about your condition to get accommodations before there are any issues. This also enables your employer to structure your job in a way that might reduce stress.

Remember to breathe

Shana Burns, contributor to The Mighty advises dealing with anxiety you might have ahead of an interview by focusing on your breath:

“In through the nose, out through the mouth, count to 10 and slow everything right down. You are tingling because you are breathing too quickly, slow it down, and it will stop. This is a temporary feeling. It will not last forever.”

Burns adds, “Remember that you are OK; distract yourself — however you need to distract yourself, do it, and be kind to yourself.”

4 interview tips from PatientsLikeMe members

1. Overdressing is OK, but try not to overshare

“I have a Doctorate degree in Education. …I tend to want to overshare thinking it will make the interviewer realize that I know a lot about the subject or position. Oversharing things about myself frustrates my friends and family but at least they understand why…. I’m just trying to connect, but it is so out of [whack].”

“I have visible tattoos and piercings. I’m willing to remove a piercing while working if I have to. My tattoos are on my wrists…I plan on wearing long sleeves to the interview.”

2. Gaps in your resume? Practice what you want to say about your work history ahead of time

“I guess it’s a fine line between saying too much and just coming off as smart and enthusiastic…I always have too little to say. In my interview on Monday, the first thing they asked was ‘why aren’t you working up to your education?’ That, and gaps of time off due to illness, make a decent resume look suspicious to employers. I stammered something about ‘illness’ but should have been more prepared. Role playing is a good idea, at least for those painful questions. And I just have to keep doing it (ugh)…”

  • Tip: Speaking of preparing for tough questions, The Muse provides some common interview questions and coaching to how to answer them.

3. Show your interest in the company and the job

“Eye contact is very important. Smile. Sell your good points, you have many.”

“Learn a little bit about the company before going into the job interview (“I learned a little bit about the company going into the job. For example, I worked at Victoria’s Secret. So I learned what my favorite part about the company was. You can be a little cheesy and say things like ‘I love that _______ store remembers its audience. It’s a strong quality of this store to have sizes and styles for every shape.'”)

4. Come with questions (even simple ones)

“Have a question or two prepared for when they ask ‘So do have any questions for me?’ That shows that you are truly interested. They can be simple like what is the dress code or roughly how many hours will you work a week.”

What has your job interview experience been like? Do you have any helpful tips to share? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe and jump in the conversation.

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