If symptoms of a mental health or substance use condition are impacting your ability to perform at work, it may be time to have a conversation with your supervisor or human resources (HR) department about reasonable accommodations.
You may already know that people with physical disabilities or health conditions can request special accommodations to help them complete their job duties. But accommodations for mental health conditions can be just as important for employees to perform to the best of their ability at work.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Staff at JAN offers one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related laws, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities.
According to JAN, the following is a list of common accommodations that you can request to help you manage your mental illness and job responsibilities:
- Flexible Schedule
- Modified Break Schedule
- Rest Area/Private Space
- Support Animal
- Support Person
- Identify and Reduce Triggers
If you want to research accommodation options yourself, you can call JAN to get accommodation ideas or look at JAN’s on-line accommodation publications at JAN's A to Z.
When requesting an accommodation, JAN recommends documenting a written request by completing an accommodation request letter. You should consider the following items to include when drafting the letter:
- Identify yourself as a person with a disability
- State that you are requesting accommodations under the ADA (or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 if you are a federal employee)
- Identify your specific problematic job tasks
- Identify your accommodation ideas
- Request your employer's accommodation ideas
- Refer to attached medical documentation if appropriate
- Ask that your employer respond to your request in a reasonable amount of time
A request for accommodations should be processed in a quick and timely manner by management or HR to be in compliance with the ADA; however, you might consider following up with your supervisor or HR directly to check in with the processing of your request and further document the interaction.