The provider must meet certain requirements. These requirements are more strict than an Emotional Support Animal. These requirements also makes sense when considering the need due to the impact on the patient. First, the Provider must be licensed, and associated with a hospital in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This will will require doctors to conform to the state’s ethics policy. Next, the doctor must be able to see the patient in question for a minimum total of 2 hours per month. This assumes for the need of continuing outpatient care by the patient. Next, the doctor must have a specialty in mental health, and therefore either be a psychologist or psychiatrist. A patient’s primary care provider will likely not qualify.
The provider will be required to register themselves with the state’s database. This will in turn allow the provider to have a set of credentials and support with 2 factor authentication. This process will prevent someone from knowing the UID and password of the physician. The provider will have to affirm the following for the patient
- Does the patient have a mental condition that meets either of the following:
- Significantly impacts the patient’s quality of life
- Causes severe negative symptoms when in a conventional public setting
- Will the patient benefit from having a mental health support animal in social situations?
- Will conditions likely get worse if reasonable measures aren’t taken?
- Will a Psychiatric Service Dog provide minimal benefit, or be counter productive when compared with the patient’s proposed MHSA
- Is the diagnosis of the patient listed in a previous or current version of the DSM?
If the doctor answers yes to all of these questions, the patient will be qualified to have a Mental Health Support Animal. The justification of the following is as follows.
First question requires that the patient’s condition impacts the quality of life. This will mean that the patient can’t just have a manageable problem or something that occasional, but the doctor must feel that the life of the patient is poor in part to the patient’s mental health. Another option is if the patient is in a conventional social setting. This does not mean the patient’s condition worsens if in a stadium with 10,000 other people, or at a crowded amusement park as these are not typical general settings. Stores, public streets, movie theaters, buses are examples of which the patient must have negative symptoms.
The second question will ask if the patient will benefit from the animal to be with the patient in these environments. If not, there is likely little or no justification from granting the registration. If this is unknown, the provider may request a probationary status to see if the patient will benefit.
The third question asks if the patient’s condition is not stable. If left alone, and the patient gets worse, a need for an emotional support from the animal that the patient has a bond with is likely to slow the progression of the condition or make it manageable.
The fourth question is about cost to benefit. If the patient is in real need of a Psychiatric Service Animal, then there is no rationale for also having a Mental Health Support Animal, although qualification as an emotional support animal can still be made valid.
The fifth question asks if the patient has an officially recognized mental health condition. The application in which the provider will be filling will NOT ask for the condition, but just if the condition is listed.
All of these questions must have an answer of yes. In the first question, it could be either or on the options, but if neither are applicable, the answer is no.
Termination of Treatment
If the provider is no longer treating the patient, the doctor will be required to remove the patient from their care profile. At this time, the state branch that manages the MHSA database will inform the patient of the dismissal, and the patient will have 60 days to have another qualifying professional take over their care. However, during this time, the animal will be given a Probationary Status when in possession of that patient.