Everyone's experience of mental health is different, and mental health can fluctuate over time. This means that identifying, agreeing and monitoring reasonable adjustments can take time. It also relies on employers and employees talking openly so that everyone's needs are met.
As an employee, if you need a reasonable adjustment for mental health you should talk with your manager or employer. You should work together to agree any reasonable adjustments.
You can use our template to request a meeting to discuss reasonable adjustments.
Preparing for the meeting
Many people find it hard to talk openly about mental health, especially when they're under pressure.
You might find it helpful to:
- think carefully about what you want to disclose about your mental health
- write down notes which can be referred to during the conversation
- practise out aloud, or role-play with someone you trust, to help find the best words to put the points across
- read any policies your employer has relating to mental health, absence and reasonable adjustments – these should make clear what is expected of you and of your employer
What to think about before asking for reasonable adjustments
You should take time to prepare for a conversation with your manager or employer about reasonable adjustments.
It's normal for people who are experiencing mental health problems to be unsure about what they need to manage their mental health. Many people might not feel ready to decide what adjustments to suggest.
There are several things you can think about when deciding what reasonable adjustments will help.
Think about how your mental health affects your work
- Are there times in the day or week that are better or harder, or do you feel the same all the time?
- Are there tasks at home or at work that feel possible and easy to do now?
- Are there tasks at home or at work that feel unmanageable now?
Think about how work affects your mental health
- Are there some tasks or situations that make you feel good?
- Are there some tasks or situations that make you feel anxious, worried or numb?
Talk to a friend or family member
You can talk to a friend or family member to ask them what they see and think. People can find it hard to recognise patterns in their behaviour, especially when they are experiencing mental health problems.
For example, you could ask:
- When am I confident, settled and happy? What am I doing? Who am I with?
- When am I unsettled, anxious or withdrawn? What am I doing? Who am I with?
Look through examples of reasonable adjustments
You could think about:
- what would help you manage your mental health and work
- what might be possible and reasonable for your employer
Get advice from an occupational health professional
An occupational health professional can give you advice on what adjustments might be suitable.
Have the conversation and agree a plan with your employer
You should meet with your employer to discuss reasonable adjustments and agree a plan. You should:
- agree a time and place for the meeting in advance
- take notes in the meeting to refer to afterwards
It might be appropriate to ask someone you work with to join the meeting to take notes. This is helpful if you find it difficult to concentrate or remember things due to your mental health condition.
The meeting might include:
- explaining why you're requesting reasonable adjustments
- explaining which reasonable adjustments you want to make
- discussing the reasonable adjustments
- agreeing the reasonable adjustments
- agreeing a plan to review and monitor the reasonable adjustments
- what ongoing support is available
Your employer might not be able to make the changes that you ask for. But that does not mean they do not want to help you find a solution that works.
Trial and monitor the reasonable adjustments
It's useful to monitor reasonable adjustments once they're in place.
You might sometimes find that reasonable adjustments:
- take time to work well as new routines are established
- need to be adapted to work effectively for everyone
- do not resolve the initial problem and need to be reviewed
Monitor the reasonable adjustments using the approach agreed during the meeting and keep a record of any changes made over time.
You can also use the template for reviewing and monitoring reasonable adjustments for mental health.
Put in place ongoing support and a process to review the reasonable adjustments
Mental health problems can last for a few weeks, months or longer-term. It's important that reasonable adjustments are reviewed on an ongoing basis.
You might find it useful to arrange follow-up meetings to discuss how the adjustment is working for you and your employer. These meetings might be weekly, monthly or less frequently depending on your situation.
Before the meeting it can be helpful to:
- agree with your employer when and where the meeting will take place
- how you and your employer will know if the reasonable adjustment is working or not
- agree what to do next if the reasonable adjustment is not working
Get more advice and support
If you need more advice or support, you can: