Support Animals In The Workplace: Know Your Rights

Posted on 15 May, 2016  in Conditions, News

Guide dog resting on the asphaltIf you rely on a service dog for help with a mental or physical disability, both federal and California law allow you to bring your animal to work if you need it. Before you do, make sure you know your rights and obligations regarding your service animal.

Which Animals Qualify?

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) allows employees with disabilities to bring assistive animals to work. These animals are generally dogs, but can also be some other animal trained in assisting a disabled person.

In addition to traditional service animals like those used by people with visual or hearing impairments, the law also allows animals that provide “emotional or other support to a person with a disability, including, but not limited to, traumatic brain injuries or mental disabilities, such as major depression.” So long as a person has a disability and the animal provides some type of support, it is allowed under the FEHA.

Who Is Covered?

Employers who have at least five employees must abide by the FEHA and its rules regarding assistive animals.

In order for an employee to use an assistive animal at work, the employee must have a mental or physical disability that makes it difficult to perform a major life activity. These disabilities do not have to be visible or even apparent—illnesses like schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and seizure disorders all qualify as a disability under the assistive animal law. A person does not qualify as disabled under the FEHA if he or she has a temporary or mild condition that does not limit his or her activities.

What Employers Can and Must Do

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for service animals. This means that unless the employer can demonstrate that allowing an assistive animal would be an undue hardship, a disabled person should be able to bring his or her support animal to work.

Employers have the right to ask for a medical certification from a health care provider confirming the employee’s disability. The definition of a “health care provider” is expansive and includes medical doctors as well as other professionals like mental health therapists, psychologists, chiropractors, and physician assistants.

The employer can also require that the animal meets certain standards. The employer can require the animal:

  • To be free from offensive odors and displays habits appropriate to the work environment,
  • To not engage in behavior that endangers the health or safety of the individual with a disability or others in the workplace; and
  • To be trained to provide assistance for the employee’s disability.

If the employer has objective evidence that an assistive animal does not meet these standards within the first two weeks of it being in the workplace, the employer can legally challenge the employee’s need for the animal.

This article, Support Animals In The Workplace: Know Your Rights, first appeared on Labor Law Office, APC.

Childrens Mental Health Awareness Week: The Benefits of Music Therapy

Posted on 9 May, 2016  in Conditions, News

Music Therapy: Mental Benefits

Content by Sienna Holmes

For Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Children’s Music Fund (CMF) aims to tell the benefits of music therapy for child patients affected by mental illness.

Mental illness in children and adolescents adds an additional level of stress and difficulty at a key point of development. For many of these young patients, music and music therapy provide relief from their mental health conditions. Music therapy offers a calm and non-threatening medium for children and adolescents to explore their thoughts and feelings.

Music therapy also increases communication, socialization, memory in children. Because music therapy bridges the gap between art and science, and the artistic nature of the therapy allows children to open up and explore their feelings, music therapy helps children cope with their mental health issues. One CMF therapist states that “teens have difficulty expressing their emotions verbally, and lyrics can help them to find the right words to express and relate to their emotions”.

Most adolescents consider music to be an important part of their life. The lyrics resonate with them and help them validate their feelings. Music therapists use the importance of lyrics to help their patients. One patient uses Jennifer Lopez’ “Feel the Light” and Rihanna’s “Towards the Sun” to deal with anxiety and to empower himself. Another patient “wrote lyrics outlining her fears, goals and dreams…to use the music to process and validate her current feelings, and also create a future using tangible goals and a plan of action.” By writing a song, the patient was able to process her emotions, and take steps toward recovery.

While the long-term effects of music therapy on children and adolescents with mental illnesses still need to be further tested, the short-term results are promising. Patients are able to communicate through music, process their feelings, feel successful and in control, and take steps towards their recovery.

Music therapy is a promising field, and the success stories from children and teens are sure to pave the way for more successes in the future. Help show support and tell the benefits of music therapy by donating or volunteering via

This article, Childrens Mental Health Awareness Week: The Benefits of Music Therapy, first appeared on Children’s Mental Health Week: The Benefits of Music Therapy.

Is Curing Mental Illness A Fairy Tale?

Posted on 6 May, 2016  in Conditions, News

Mental Health Humor by Chato Stewart Moonshot cow over the the moon

Mental Health Humor by Chato Stewart Moonshot cow over the the moon

Reporter: Curing Cancer Awesome! What about curing mental Illness???
President Obama: The cow jumped over the moonshot 2.
Caption: Is Curing Mental Illness A Fairy Tale?

In President Obama’s 2016 last State of the Union Address… there was an announcement that while it may not be possible/reachable in the 8 months that he has in office but as I understand it, there will be a MOONSHOT to cure cancer! AWESOME!!! Yeah, everyone wants that…cancer cured. I have a good friend right now dealing with stage 4 and the cancer has spread. I love him dearly and for him to suffer, any sane or insane person would WANT THAT MOONSHOT to try to cure cancer.

Hey, I don’t know what it’s going to take to fix the red tape mental health system is in. It looks like the top administration don’t either. Maybe there will be a mental health cow jumping over the MOONSHOT to cure mental illness…but I would not count on it. And no matter who replaces him, it may be like the cat and fiddle for mental health care.

With that in mind, SELF-CARE is even MORE important. So if you want to lean more about self-care make time for an Upcoming Webinar: Febuary 4  presented by SAMHSA-HRSA CENTER FOR INTEGRATED HEALTH SOLUTIONS

Critical Skills for Activating Self-Management

Thursday, February 4, 2:00-3:00 pm Eastern / 11:00 am-12:00 pm Pacific

Register for free at:

  • Understand the importance of tapping into individual strengths and motivation to set person-centered health goals
  • Recognize the key skills needed to support activation of self-management
  • Gain resources and references for additional information on activation of self-management



Support the Mental Health Humor Project’s as a Patron of the Mental Health Arts.

Join in on the Mirth and funny Cartoons about living with Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety, Other mood and mental health disorders: Chato’s free e-newsletter:

REMEMBER my GOAL since 20o8 of the Mental Health Humor cartoons has been about sharing the cartoons and hopefully giving a little joy, giggle, smile, humor to my peers…

“One Share Makes Many Smiles!” ~ Chato Stewart

This article, Is Curing Mental Illness A Fairy Tale?, first appeared on Mental Health Humor.

Some advice for improving your mental health game

Posted on 5 May, 2016  in Conditions, News

by Dr. Emma Wood

brainWe live in a culture that values productivity over health, outward validation above personal contentment, the bottom line (usually money) over the complex and at times painful beauty of being human. Within this culture, physical health is acknowledged as legitimate while mental health seems to be considered a “personal problem” or at best optional.

You broke your leg? Let me take you to the ER!

You can’t get out of bed in the morning because life is overwhelming? Just try harder, or drink coffee, or… maybe you are just lazy.

Around 25 % of America’s population experiences a diagnoseable mental illness in a given year. You may or may not fall into that 25%, but mental health is an issue for 100% of the population. An absence of mental illness does not the presence of mental health make. As a clinical psychologist I see the negative impact of the denial of mental health as a priority. Often, when people chronically neglect their mental health and self-care they ultimately end up with depression or anxiety which interferes with their ability to function.

The World Health Association defines mental health this way:

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”[1]

I would encourage you to ask yourself a question: where am I at with mental health?

rush rushBeing a therapist does not make someone immune from emotional and psychological difficulties, just as being a physician does not make you immune to cancer. All human beings are vulnerable to stress and ultimately distress. There are many ways one can improve or work on their mental health. Regular exercise that is fun (i.e. not pounding away on a treadmill looking at a wall), self-reflection, opportunities for creativity, play, relaxation, reading, meaningful relationships, eating delicious and nutritious food, these can all be part of your mental health routine. My routine is admittedly not as robust as I would like it to be. With two toddlers, a full time job, root canals, ear infections, church pot lucks, evening programs, etc. I find it hard to get it right. This is where the pièce de résistance of self-care comes in. The “mental health day.” The mental health day is a sick day off work or away from parenting (i.e. a babysitter). Consider it if mental health is sliding down the slippery slope towards mental illness.

I have come up with some hopefully helpful guidelines should you need and use a mental health day. I encourage you to do this, perhaps once a year, or more if necessary. Hopefully the following sentiments will assist you in getting the most out of your mental health day.

Things not to do on your mental health day:

  • no paperworkLaundry
  • Clean the kitchen (or any other part of the house)
  • Wear restrictive clothing
  • Answer work emails
  • Run errands

Things to avoid:

Picking up your children early from day care/school- it’s good to miss them. Ignore the guilt about not spending time with them. If you take the day for you, for the few hours you get with them at the end of the day you will be a much more present and healthy parent.

Avoid productivity.  This is probably the most counter cultural message, but it is important to have time to live, play, relax, be in the moment.

Avoid that list of things that you want to get done when you have time. Taking the new Mom a meal, buying new shoes for your baby’s rapidly growing feet, meal planning and prepping, working on the taxes, mowing the lawn, etc. you are booked all day with an appointment with yourself- you can’t cancel on him/her again!

Avoid guilt- easier said than done.

Things TO DO on your mental health day:

Nourish your soul. There is a qualitative difference between binge watching Netflix and reading an inspiring autobiography. There is a difference between watching day time tv and watching a nostalgic comedy from your childhood. Think about what the junk food of your brain is- it’s a quick distraction but leaves you feeling empty and hungry. Start to figure out the things that fill you up.

Journal. Take some time and space to think, clarify your thoughts and values, tune in to your inner experience. This is probably the healthiest thing you can do on your mental health sick day.

Have your partner bring home dinner. Let yourself completely off the hook- don’t cheat yourself out of the full day. It’s like meticulously planting a garden, and then not watering it. You want to follow through to see the full results of your investment.

Hopefully these tips leave you inspired and motivated to making mental health a priority!

Emma WoodDr. Emma Wood is a licensed clinical psychologist, public speaker, trainer, consultant and blogger in Waco. You can see more of her work and get more information about the services she provides at 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.


[1] World Health Organization [WHO]. “Strengthening mental health promotion (Fact Sheet No. 220.),” (accessed January 6, 2010).


This article, Some advice for improving your mental health game, first appeared on Act Locally Waco.

Factors Affecting Dog Bite Compensation

Posted on 2 May, 2016  in Conditions, News

Helpful information for valuing damages in a dog bite injury case.

Factors Affecting Dog Bite Compensation In the state of California, dog owners are always liable for unprovoked dog bites. It does not matter if they reasonably believed their pet was the friendliest pooch on the planet and never dreamed it would bite—you still deserve compensation for your injuries.

Now, the question becomes:

How much compensation you deserve?

This can be a difficult question to answer. For best results, you should not try to handle the matter just between yourself and the dog owner. Instead, involve a dog bite injury attorney such as Fernando D. Vargas.

Drawing on his extensive experience in dog bite cases, Attorney Vargas will help you arrive at a fair number for your damages and then seek appropriate compensation from the dog owner and/or their homeowners insurance. When quantifying your damages, some of the factors Attorney Vargas will consider include:

How Serious Was the Injury?

In any type of personal injury case, the first factor to consider is the severity of the injury and the cost of the necessary medical treatment. This forms a baseline for figuring the pain and suffering that may be appropriate in the case. In a case involving a small dog bite, treatment for the injury may be relatively simple and inexpensive. The medical bill alone may not effectively communicate your suffering, so it is helpful to have photographs showing the wound immediately after the bite and during the healing process.

Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Riverside CA

Very few humans contract rabies in the US, and most of them get the disease from wild animal. However, if for some reason the dog owner cannot provide proof that their dog has a current rabies vaccination, you will need to immediately begin treatment for this disease as a precaution. This treatment will require 4 shots and can cause unpleasant side effects, and you should seek compensation for the hardship of having to undergo this treatment.

Did You Have to Miss Work?

If your dog bite injury was severe, it may have prevented you from being able to work during the healing process. If so, compensation for lost wages (and potentially for lost earning power in the case of a permanently disabling injury) should be included in your claim.

Will There Be Scarring?

Dog bite injuries often result in scarring. Even a relatively shallow bite might scar if the edges of the wound were too torn or if the bite got infected, and even a small facial scar could be a serious concern for you. As your dog bite injury attorney, Fernando D. Vargas can connect you with skilled doctors for a plastic surgery medical-legal consultation. This will help you understand what scar reduction treatments may be needed and ensure that their cost is included in your dog bite injury claim.

Do You Have Emotional Distress?

In the case of a particularly vicious dog bite attack, you may suffer from significant emotional distress or even PTSD. It may be necessary to visit a mental health professional to have your mental anguish documented so that you can receive appropriate compensation.

Call Now for a Free Initial Consultation

If you have been bitten by a dog, contact The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 877-982-0707 now to discuss your case for free.

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This article, Factors Affecting Dog Bite Compensation, first appeared on Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas.