What are mental health accommodations?

What kinds of accommodations are people with a mental health problem likely to need?

There is no comprehensive list of accommodations for people who are dealing with mental health issues. Accommodations tend to be based on the individual needs of employees as well as on the resources available to the employer. In some instances a small employer will be unable to provide the same type of accommodation as a larger employer. In most cases accommodations are inexpensive and involve workplace flexibility rather than capital expenditures.

Common accommodations for people with mental health problems include:

Flexible scheduling

  • Flexibility in the start or end of working hours to accommodate effects of medication or for medical appointments.
  • Part-time shifts (which may be used to return a worker to a full-time position).
  • More frequent breaks

Changes in supervision

  • Modifying the way instructions and feedback are given. For example, written instructions may help an employee focus on tasks.
  • Having weekly meetings between the supervisor and employee may help to deal with problems before they become serious.

Changes in training

  • Allowing extra time to learn tasks.
  • Allowing the person to attend training courses that are individualized.

Modifying job duties

  • Exchanging minor tasks with other employees.

Using technology

  • Allowing the person to use a lamp instead of fluorescent lights to eliminate a flicker which may be irritating or cause a reaction.
  • Providing the employee with a tape recorder to tape instructions from a supervisor, training programs and meetings if they have difficulty with memory.
  • Allowing an employee to use head phones to protect them from loud noises.

Modifying work space or changing location

  • Allowing an employee to relocate to a quieter area where they will be free from distractions.
  • Allowing an employee to work at home.

Job coach assistance in hiring, and on the job

  • A job coach may be someone from an outside agency that assists the employee in the workplace. Alternately, someone within the workplace, such as a peer or human resources staff person might perform this role.
  • The job coach can help in a number of ways such as assisting the person to fill out applications, helping them to reduce their anxiety by providing feedback, observing their work and making suggestions about accommodation.

More than anyone else, your employee will know what accommodation they need to allow them to work productively. By talking directly with the employee, you will be able to come up with solutions that meet the needs of the individual as well as the organization.


  • “What Accommodations Work on the Job?” Centre for Psychiatric Rehabiliation, Boston University. Retrieved August 8, 2005, from
  • Office of Disability Employment Policy, US Department of Labor. “Work-site accommodation ideas for people with psychiatric disabilities.” Job Accommodation Network. Retrieved January 20, 2003, from
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