In 2013, Healing Companions, Inc., a non-profit organization was founded to serve mentally ill people across the country by providing information about and access to PSDs. We train PSDs to meet the needs of individuals in order to mitigate the effects of their symptoms. Depending on the individual's disability, PSDs are trained tasks such as guiding a handler disoriented by anxiety, conducting a room search to alleviate fear of intruders or the unknown, providing assistance in locating an individual's car when dissociating, interrupting a panic attack, obsessive compulsive behavior or nightmares.
Although some people may be familiar with the use of PSDs for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress, fewer people are familiar with the effectiveness of incorporating PSDs into the care of people struggling with a broader range of mental illness, including eating, anxiety, depression, bipolar, dissociative and identity disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older -- about one in four adults -- suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year." Yet, less than a third of adults dealing with mental disorders receive treatment. The costs of medical care are largely responsible for this, as mental disorders rank among the top 5 most costly medical conditions in the US in a ranking by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Data from National Alliance on Mental Illness shows that access to medical treatment has become increasingly restricted as states across the nation severely decreased the budgets for their mental health agencies since 2009. The economic costs of untreated mental illnesses cost the American public billions of dollars every year.