two women, one on a laptop assisting the otherReasonable accommodations at work are not just for people with physical disabilities, there are many possible accommodations for employees with mental illnesses as well. Learn about some of the available accommodations.


Mental Health Support on the Job: Reasonable Accommodations

Apr 20, 2023

two women, one on a laptop assisting the otherWhen you think of work accommodations for someone who has a disability, you may immediately think of people with physical disabilities, such as those with mobility issues, hearing impairments or blindness. But did you know there are many possible accommodations for employees who have a mental illness?

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.

Equal opportunity is the opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment. Examples can include:

A flexible schedule

An accommodation might include a request to work a specific time shift. For example, if you're more mentally alert and sharp during the day, you can ask to be scheduled for a day shift instead of a night shift. Another area of flexibility can include the timing of your commute to work. If driving or using public transportation during busy daytime traffic causes anxiety, or even panic attacks, you can inquire about going in for a nighttime shift when the roads are less busy. You may also be able to request that breaks during your shift be adjusted. After working for a while, you may find that one long break works better for you than several short ones.

Communication preferences

If you have problems understanding when your supervisor gives you instructions, it's a good idea to share what communication style works best for you. If you retain written instructions better than verbal, ask your boss to give instructions by email, or on paper. This could make a big difference in your everyday tasks. Or, if you are in a meeting, but the presenter often speaks very quickly, have a conversation with your supervisor and ask if you can record meetings. This allows you to listen later at your own pace and take notes.

A private workspace

Working in a noisy, open area can make it hard to concentrate. If you're unable to focus on your work, ask about a quiet workspace. There might be a conference room that's not in use, or a quiet corner to work in. Ask if there is an available office for you to work in that will create a calm environment. If you already have an office, but there's an "Open Door" policy and noise in the hallway, ask if you can close your door. You could also ask for permission to wear noise-cancelling headphones.

A job coach

A job coach is someone who can be with you at work to help you learn the responsibilities of the job, explore other helpful accommodations, and reduce anxiety. This person can closely monitor your progress and help along the way as you learn tasks and start doing projects with co-workers. A job coach can even join you at meetings to make sure you understand the main points and complete any work you're assigned. This one-on-one help at work can have a positive impact on your job performance and confidence. As with any accommodation, your employer will review the approval for a job coach on a case-by-case basis.

How Can Ticket to Work Help?

Working while navigating accommodations can be challenging, but for many people, it's possible, and we're here to help. Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, eligible participants can work with service providers to receive the service and supports they need to find and maintain employment as they move toward financial independence through work.

Connect with a Ticket Program service provider such as an Employment Network (EN) for career counseling, including help with identifying reasonable accommodations. Your service provider can work with you to determine which accommodations may help you succeed in the workplace. Find one today!

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. You can also learn more by registering for a free, online Work Incentives Seminar Event webinar. Or text TICKET to 1-571-489-5292 to receive Ticket Program texts. Standard messaging rates may apply, and you can opt out at any time.

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