Making workplace adjustments for people with mental health problems: new guidance from the Department of Health


There’s a growing body of evidence that shows how relatively minor adjustments in the workplace can have a huge impact on supporting people with mental health problems and help them stay in work.

The Department of Health has published guidance that will help employers think through the changes that they can make in the workplace to support their employees. There’s practical advice and lots of links to support organisations in the 6-page document.

The good practice for applying workplace adjustments from the guidance are as follows:

  • Have an open, honest and practical conversation with the person about how their mental health condition impacts their work and what adjustments can be made.
  • Ask the individual what they need – they are often the best experts of managing their condition.
  • Focus on what the person can do – not what they can’t.
  • Tailor adjustments to the specific needs and abilities of the individual – be creative.
  • Be flexible – as some mental health conditions can be episodic. It may be more helpful to agree adjustments that can be implemented as and when required and revoked when not.
  • Agree the adjustments which are appropriate for the organisation and the individual.
  • Be realistic about what you can offer. If you are unsure, consult your Human Resources department or the ACAS helpline may be able to offer you guidance.
  • Regularly review the adjustments to ensure they are working and are still appropriate.
  • With the permission of the individual communicate the adjustments to other team members to alleviate perceptions of favourable treatment.
  • Consider the wider organisational context in which the adjustments are being made and whether or not they can be offered to all staff.
  • Always take advice (as above) where you’re not sure what to do.


Advice for employers on workplace adjustments for mental health conditions (PDF). Department of Health, 10 Sep 2012.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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