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Updated May 5, 2022
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Sample Accommodations for Mental Health Conditions

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other nondiscrimination laws, most employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, including mental health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are adjustments t a work setting that make it possible for qualified employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs. The majority of accommodations can be made for minimal, if any, cost and a small investment of time and planning. Moreover, effective accommodations can be good for business because they help employees return to work more quickly after disability or medical leave, eliminate costs due to lost productivity, and help recruit and retain qualified employees. 

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) offer the following examples of accommodations that have helped employees with mental health conditions to more effectively perform their jobs. Many of these interventions will improve worker productivity, regardless of their mental health status. The list below does not include all possible accommodations, but it is a good starting point and provides some of the most effective and frequently used workplace accommodations.
Table of contents

Policies and Scheduling

  • Telecommuting, part-time hours, job sharing, adjustments in the start or end of work hours and granting permission to make up missed time for employees struggling with medication side effects, such as drowsiness or lack of energy.
  • Sick leave for reasons related to mental health, flexible use of vacation time, additional unpaid or administrative leave for treatment or recovery, leaves of absence or use of occasional leave (a few hours at a time) for therapy and related appointments.
  • Breaks according to individual needs rather than a fixed schedule, more frequent breaks or greater flexibility in scheduling breaks, provision of backup coverage during breaks, and telephone breaks during work hours to call professionals and others needed for support.
  • Permitting beverages and food at workstations, if necessary, to mitigate the side effects of medications.


Work Area Modifications

  • Reduction or removal of distractions in the work area.
  • Addition of room dividers, partitions, soundproofing or visual barriers between workspaces to reduce noise or visual distractions.
  • Private offices or private space enclosures.
  • Office/workspace location away from noisy machinery.
  • Reduction of workplace noise that can be adjusted (such as telephone volume).
  • Increased natural lighting.
  • Music (with headset) to block out distractions.

Equipment & Technology

  • Recording devices for recording/reviewing meetings and training sessions.
  • White noise or environmental sound machines.
  • Hand-held electronic organizers, software calendars and organizer programs.
  • Remote job coaching, laptop computers, personal digital assistants and office computer access via remote locations.
  • Software that minimizes computerized distractions, such as pop-up screens.

Job Duties

  • Modification or removal of nonessential job duties by swapping tasks with other employees or eliminating unnecessary tasks.
  • Division of large assignments into smaller tasks and goals.
  • Additional assistance or time for orientation activities, training, and learning job tasks and new responsibilities.
  • Additional training or modified training materials.

Management & Supervision

  • Implementation of flexible and supportive supervision style; positive reinforcement and feedback; adjustments in level of supervision or structure, such as more frequent meetings to help prioritize tasks; and open communication with supervisors regarding performance and work expectations.
  • Additional forms of communication and/or written and visual tools, including communication of assignments and instructions in the employee's preferred learning style (written, verbal, e-mail, demonstration); creation and implementation of written tools such as daily "to-do" lists, step-by-step checklists, written (in addition to verbal) instructions and typed minutes of meetings.
  • Regularly scheduled meetings (weekly or monthly) with employees to discuss workplace issues and productivity, including annual discussions as part of performance appraisals to assess abilities and discuss promotional opportunities.
  • Development of strategies to deal with problems before they arise.
  • Written work agreements that include any agreed upon accommodations, long-term and short-term goals, expectations of responsibilities and consequences of not meeting performance standards.
  • Education of all employees about their right to accommodations.
  • Relevant training for all employees, including co-workers and supervisory staff.