Mental Health Disclosures: How to Disclose a Mental Health Disability to Your Employer

Having a mental health disability for an employee can often lead to discrimination in the workplace

To combat this, if you have a mental health condition, you must disclose this to your employer. By doing so, employers will become prepared to accommodate your needs and be able to provide reasonable adjustments. 

This not only contributes to the well-being of employees but also underscores the importance of learning difficulties and mental health awareness and understanding in the professional realm.

Why a Mental Health Disclosure is Important

You may be unsure when disclosing a mental health disability to your employer. 

However, learning difficulties and mental health disabilities are a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. This means that by disclosing this information to your employer, gain legal protection against discrimination. 

Further, disclosing a mental health disability will help your employer accommodate your needs and support required. 

It is important to remember that employees are not legally obliged to disclose their mental health disability. Thus, a mental health disclosure happens when the employee voluntarily shares the information with their employer. 

Are There Potential Risks of Disclosing My Mental Health Disability?

Being open and transparent with your employer can help them when adjusting to your needs. However, disclosing your mental health disorder can lead to prejudice or discrimination. 

To prevent the negative effects of this, there are things employers should keep in mind:

  • Confidentiality and Privacy

Employers must ensure that this sensitive information of an employee will be handled with confidentiality. Thus, only those in roles that provide reasonable adjustments or support should know about it. To avoid prejudice and discrimination, other individuals in the organisation must not be informed.

  • Anti-Discrimination

In supporting employees with a mental health disorder, employers should have a principle of being anti-discriminatory. Base all employment-related decisions, including hiring, promotions, training, and benefits, on their abilities and qualifications, not their disability.

  • Reasonable Adjustments

Upon disclosure of a mental health condition, employers are legally obliged to assess and enact reasonable adjustments. This could mean modifying the work environment, adjusting hours, offering additional support or adapting the workload.

What Legal Protection is Offered for a Mental Health Disability

In the United Kingdom, the Equality Act 2010 provides legal protection for individuals with mental health disabilities. 

Mental health conditions, including common disorders like anxiety and depression, are considered disabilities if they substantially and long-term affect day-to-day activities. This legislation obliges employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate employees with mental health disabilities, ensuring a fair and supportive working environment.

When to Tell Your Employer About Your Mental Health Disability

Deciding when to disclose your mental health disability is a personal choice, influenced by various factors. 

During the recruitment process, consider contacting HR before interviews or assessment centres. This proactive approach allows you to discuss potential needs and make necessary adjustments. 

However, you are not legally obliged to disclose your mental health disability during the interview stage. Alternatively, you may also choose to disclose this information when you start the job. 

Ultimately, the decision lies in your hands when you would like to disclose your mental health disability to your employer. 

How to Tell Your Employer – Do’s and Don’ts

When you decide to tell your employer about your mental health disability, here are some things you should remember. 


Be Prepared to Provide Information

  • Describe your mental health condition simply and briefly.
  • Explain how it affects you, including any changes over time.
  • Share relevant information without using jargon.

Focus on Your Strengths

  • Highlight skills developed through resilience and coping mechanisms.
  • Emphasise qualities such as empathy and adaptability.

Assert Your Needs

  • Openly communicate adjustments required to fulfil job requirements.
  • Discuss reasonable accommodations with your employer.


Assume Understanding

  • Don’t assume your employer understands your condition without additional information.
  • Avoid withholding relevant details that may impact your work.

Overemphasise Limitations

  • Focus on what you can do rather than dwelling on limitations.
  • Provide examples of achievements and successful performance despite your condition.

Neglect Privacy

  • Avoid disclosing unnecessary personal details.
  • Share only information directly relevant to your mental health disability and work requirements.

What is a Reasonable Adjustment and What Can be Considered “Reasonable”?

Reasonable adjustments refer to modifications that employers should implement for their employees when individuals face significant disadvantages. This can be due to a mental health disorder. 

Examples of what reasonable adjustments can look like are below.

Reasonable Adjustments during the Recruitment Process

Extra Time for Interviews and Testing

  • Address anxiety and nerves through extended time.
  • Ensure a fair assessment of your abilities.

Consideration for Medication Effects

  • Schedule interviews at times suitable for medication impact.
  • Request later start times if morning medication affects alertness.

Accommodations for Assessment Centres

  • Request frequent breaks during assessment centres.
  • Designate a pastoral role for support during assessments.

Reasonable Adjustments When Starting Work

Flexible Start and End Times

  • Agree on flexible working hours to accommodate individual needs.
  • Consider adjusted start times to mitigate stress.

Working from Home Options

  • Discuss regular or occasional working-from-home arrangements.
  • Explore possibilities to create a conducive work environment.

Work-Based Mentorship

  • Facilitate settling into a new role through mentorship.
  • Provide additional support during the adjustment period.

Reasonable Adjustments for While in Work

Specialist Equipment for Working from Home

  • Request necessary tools to enable efficient work from home.
  • Explore software solutions to aid in scheduling and planning tasks.

Reviewing Workload and Task Allocation

  • Discuss workload adjustments during challenging times.
  • Request re-allocation of tasks when feeling unwell.

Mitigating Sensory Difficulties in the Workplace

  • Implement adjustments like noise-cancelling headphones or desk partitions.
  • Address specific sensory needs, such as lighting preferences.

Navigating a mental health disability disclosure in the workplace involves careful consideration of personal, legal, and professional aspects. 

Understanding the importance of disclosure, potential risks, legal protections, and reasonable adjustments is needed. Employing a proactive and informed approach when deciding when and how to disclose ensures that individuals with mental health disabilities receive the support and accommodation they need to thrive in the workplace. 

Ultimately, a mutual understanding between employees and employers on disabilities and adjustments will benefit them both. Employees will be more empowered if given the right support by their employer. 

If you or anyone you know has a mental health disability and needs reasonable adjustments in order to work, speak to your employer today. Should an employee not be provided with such adjustments, it could be a case of discrimination.

Our employment law specialists will discuss the facts of your case to determine the eligibility of your disability discrimination case. Should you have an eligible case, they could help you through the legal process.