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  • Writer's pictureKate Broeking

Accommodation 101 for Mental Health and Neurodiversity

A guide to reasonable accommodations for professionals with mental health conditions and neurodivergence, including ADHD, which are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Are things like depression, ADHD, autism, dyslexia and anxiety really considered disabilities?

Short answer: Yes!

Long answer: The ADA doesn't provide a comprehensive list of disabilities but defines a disability as someone who has a physical or mental medical condition that substantially limits a major life activity, or if they have a record of such a condition. This includes chronic and episodic conditions that are substantially limiting when active, such as bipolar disorder. This also includes someone with a history of cancer, even if the cancer is in remission.

Disabilities include but are not limited to: depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, dyslexia, PTSD, OCD, schizophrenia, brain injury, diabetes, epilepsy, chronic illness, and more.

What are accommodations?

Accommodations support professionals to perform the essential functions of their job, often by providing adjustments to:

  • The work environment

  • Existing training materials or processes

  • Work hours and scheduling

  • Supervisory methods

  • Communication methods

  • Access to resources or assistive technology

Accommodations require medical documentation from a healthcare provider, which can be a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, GP, specialist doctor, etc.

They also need to be reasonable, meaning they don't cause undue hardship to the business. Usually this means financial hardship, or disruption to business operations.

What are examples of accommodations for mental health and neurodivergence?

Below is a list of accommodations I've collected over my professional experience. This list isn't exhaustive but it should get your gears turning on what could help you!

Work Environment Adjustments

  • Noise cancelling headphones

  • Desk away from foot traffic for minimal distractions

  • Wall dividers on either side of desk to block visual distractions

  • Adjusted lighting

  • Ability to use quiet room

  • Balance ball chairs, standing desk ergonomic adjustments, foot hammocks, etc.

  • Approval for emotional support animal

  • Ability to work from home a certain number of days per week

Schedule Adjustments

Adjustments to training materials and on-the-job learning

Adjustments to Supervisory Methods

Adjusted Communication Methods

Access to Additional Resources and Tech

Will my accommodation requests be approved?

It depends! I’ve seen most of these accommodations both approved and denied, sometimes

both by the same employer. This is because it depends on the team's specific business needs and the employee’s medical needs. Accommodations are often a negotiation process to figure out what's effective and reasonable for both parties; there's no "rulebook" that outlines everything that's reasonable and unreasonable. HR, managers, and employees often work together to create effective accommodations.

The best way to find out is to start by requesting a confidential conversation with a member of your accommodations or HR team.

Still have questions?

I'm happy to help. Schedule a free consultation with me to get your questions answered and learn more about the accommodations process.

-Kate Broeking, VocaWell Founder and Principal Coach


The information contained in this document is only for the information of the intended recipient and may not be used, published, or redistributed without the prior written consent of VocaWell LLC. The opinions expressed are in good faith and while every care has been taken in preparing these documents, VocaWell LLC makes no representations and gives no warranties of whatever nature in respect of these documents, including but not limited to the accuracy or completenes­­s of any information, facts and/or opinions contained therein.

The information contained within this document is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. We do not intend to offer legal advice by providing information contained in this document. Parties who review this information may consider seeking legal advice from a licensed attorney for assistance. VocaWell LLC, its subsidiaries, the directors, employees and agents cannot be held liable for the use of and reliance of the opinions, estimates, forecasts and findings in this document.


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