What do we mean by a mental disability, or mental illness

A mental illness, also known as mental health disorder, refers to a wide range of mental illnesses – disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness esarrhea, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviour.

Many people have concerns about their mental health from time to time. But a temporary mental health problem becomes a mental illness when persistent signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and impair your ability to function.

A mental illness can make you unhappy and cause problems in your daily life, e.g. at school, at work or in relationships. In most cases, the symptoms can be treated with a combination of medication and talk therapy (psychotherapy).


Signs and symptoms of mental illness may vary depending on disorder, circumstances and other factors. The symptoms of a mental illness can affect a person’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

Examples of signs and symptoms are:

  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Confused thinking or decreased ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood swings of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal of friends and activities
  • Significant fatigue, low energy or sleep problems
  • Detached from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
  • Difficulties in understanding and referring to situations and people
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use
  • Significant changes in eating habits
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence
  • Suicide thinking

Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder occur as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headache or other unexplained pain.

Possible complications

Mental illness is one of the main causes of disability. Untreated mental illnesses can cause severe emotional, behavioral and physical health problems. Complications that are sometimes associated with mental illness include:

  • Dissatisfaction and decreased joie de vivre
  • Family conflicts
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Social isolation
  • Problems with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
  • Missed work or school or other problems related to work or school
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Self-harm and harm to others, including suicide or murder
  • Weakened immune system so your body can’t resist infections
  • Heart disease and other diseases

(Source: Maya Clinic, USA)

We believe that ESA’s (Emotional Support Animals) can and are a good help for facilitating and coping with mental impairments. They can also help prevent mental illness from breaking out at all, or to alleviate symptoms that occur.

This is an important part of our motivation to promote and promote the topic of “Emotional Support Animal” also in Europe.

Is it possible to get the doctor’s certificate online?

This possibility exists if it is not possible otherwise. Normally, every psychotherapist or doctor will issue a corresponding doctor’s certificate, as the value of an animal to a human being is uncontested.

If it is still not possible to get a corresponding doctor’s confirmation (for example because there is no contact with a psychotherapist), then we can offer the possibility to act alternatively online.

The process then works in two steps:

  • Completing an ESA questionnaire (check letter) to create the ESA Card
  • Agreement of an online conversation with Dr. Beate Pottmann-Knapp (psychotherapist) which can be handled either by zoom or WahtsApp.

The cost of checkletter and online call is 50€. Billing is done via Paypal, where a direct payment request is created and sent.

The individual steps are:

  • Email service@esa-europe.eu to book an online lesson with the message
  • Sending the questionnaire to be completed, scanned and returned
  • Sending the Paypal payment request and agreeing the appointment
  • Conducting online conversation
  • Issuance of the doctor’s certificate and sending by e-mail
  • Purchase of ESAcard in the ESAeurope shop
  • Sending of the essential data (human and animal) for the issuance of esAcard
  • Printing and sending ESACard

Does it make sense to exchange the previous ESA register card for the ESAeurope Card?

That’s a good question. The fact is that, for legal reasons, we have definitely changed the conditions for issuing the card. This is necessary to put the acceptance of the card on wider feet. We therefore recommend that you issue a new card on occasion and will also offer a reduced exchange price. However, that is not yet clear.
Of course, you can also continue to use the previous card. However, this no longer has any real basis. A lot has changed. The question, of course, is who sees the difference at this stage.
They are registered and therefore continue to be part of the ESAeurope community. This is not subject to a charge. You can therefore always get an idea of what is on offer and then decide for yourself if and when you want to switch to the new card.

I am interested in purchasing a MembershipCard from ESAeurope. What is necessary for this?

I register myself and my pet with ESAeurope. This is done on the ESAeurope (https://www.esa-europe.eu) website.

By registering, I get access to the shop and other services available only to registered members.

Furthermore I have a medical diagnosis according to ICD10 or DSM V and thus basically fulfill the prerequisite for keeping an Emotional Support Animal.

Subsequently, I own or will have an animal that supports me emotionally and that I always need around me.

I download the form: ESA Confirmation Letterfrom the download center of ESAeurope for submission.

I present the completed form for signature to my doctor, specialist, psychologist or psychotherapist. This signed form creates the basis of the ESAeurope Card content with the information requested in the registration.

ESAeurope will issue the relevant card when the above-mentioned confirmation is available, when all registration information (including photos) has been received and when the purchase of the ESAeurope Card, including payment, has been confirmed.

The printed and completed ESAeurope Card will be sent by mail to the requested shipping address. (Depending on the country within 2-4 weeks) This card is valid for 2 years and will be look somehow different from the old ESA-register card issued so far (which had no expiration date).

Are there any costs for ESAeurope registration?

No. ESAeurope membership is free of charge and has no expiration date. This applies to ESAeurope membership, active or passive participation in discussions and all regularly provided information.

You must buy only products that you purchase in our shop (we hope to offer products that are as sensible and cost-effective as possible), possible participation in online seminars or webinars when offered and services of third parties, that are offered from external inks.

What means my ESAeurope registration?

With the registration I become part of the ESAeurope community and get lifelong free access to many of the services of ESAeurope. We expect that in the course of this project we will continuously offer new possibilities and products that will make your life easier with your ESA animal.

Specifically, we want to offer you specifically helpful products in our shop (the focus is certainly on the periodically renewed ESAeurope Card). In addition, we want to put the whole issue of emotional support animals on a broader and more acceptable basis and to encourage more and more institutions to accept the ESAeurope Card.

Another focus will be the creation of a discussion forum on ESA animals and the provision of important news and information on this topic.

Plans are also being made for networking of community members (who wants to participate), the provision of webinars (web based discussions and training on the topics of mental health problems, animal training with a focus on engagement and relationship, and much more. Our corresponding concern would be to support you in your life with your animal and with your mental impairment.

What is the advantage of an ESAeurope Card?

The ESAeurope Card replaces documents and confirmations that prove the status of your mental disability. It also documents that you and your ESA animal form a necessary and meaningful unit.

If my doctor, psychotherapist, psychologist or social-therapeutic body confirms that my pet guarantees me special health benefits, this animal becomes an ESA animal.

If I now want to stay in a place that actually excludes animals, I would have to present my documents in individual cases and explain in detail why and why I need my animal near me. In different people, different places and with normally different diagnoses, this individual proof overwhelms the control bodies. Rejection of the animal due to ignorance or uncertainty is often the result.

It is to be expected that the discussion to be led (in the worst case an argument) will have a very negative impact on my state of mind and health. Concrete consequences could be fear, great excitement, even panic attacks.

This uncertainty is intended to limit or prevent the ESAeurope Card altogether. With the map you prove the positive relationship between diagnosis and needs of the ESA animal and create an understandable scenario, so that it will be easier for third parties to accept the animal.

I need proof that the presence of an animal of my choice promotes my recovery and health, but I do not yet have an animal.

Such a case can occur when I need a permit for an animal where it is actually prohibited.

For example, for property administrations, universities, doctor visits, recreation stays, leisure activities, travel, shopping and at work.

So what can I do:

I have a medical diagnosis according to ICD10 or DSM V
I register with ESAeurope. With the registration I get access to the download center from which I can load helpful documents and confirmation templates.

The corresponding documents were developed to confirm the necessary relationship between the present psychological restriction and the necessity of an ESA animal.

The confirmation is made by a doctor, specialist, psychologist or psychotherapist, in some cases also by a social support institute. This confirmation shows and proves the connection between psychological restriction and the usefulness of the ESA animal and is the most important prerequisite for the issuance of the ESAeurope Card.

At the same time, the aforementioned confirmation is also a prerequisite for any discussion with the above-mentioned bodies in order to clarify in advance whether the ESA animal is accepted.

Once everything has been clarified, you can order the ESAeurope Card.

Is an ESA dog an assistance dog, companion dog, therapy dog or service dog?


ESA animals have no special training. An ESA dog is a pet to which humans have a particularly intense bond. The animal is important and has a special and individually supportive function for humans. Man realizes that he is better off when his animal is nearby. Humans and animals are a psychologically functioning team. An ESA animal should therefore not be separated from humans.

Assistance animals, therapy animals and accompanying animals, on the other hand, are specially trained animals (mostly dogs) that can deal precisely with the needs of the assigned human being. They are specially trained and educated. These animals have a legal framework in many countries that leaves no choice to a third party but to accept them. Appropriate animals must be accepted in the respective context.

ESAs, on the other hand, are emotionally oriented animals often without special training. They are just as important to the assigned person, but do not need to be legally allowed in certain defined situations (except USA).

Can I take an ESA animal registered with ESAeurope anywhere?

The ESAeurope Card does not contain any guarantees or liabilities.

By presenting the card, you explain the special position of the animal for your person and prove that you urgently need this animal in normal daily use. Also that this is confirmed by your doctor, psycho-therapist or a similar institution. You also explain that the animal is a great help for you personally to cope with everyday life and special situations.

If my pet is then accepted on the basis of the presentation of the ESAeurope Card, the respective rules and regulations apply on site. These must be strictly adhered to. Please also make sure to have everything the animal needs in order to provide it with appropriate care in the respective situation.

The decision to accept an animal will depend very much on how affable and well-educated this animal is. This means that you increase your chances of admission in the respective situation if your animal has a positive effect.