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Discrimination in everyday life

Explains the law that protects you from discrimination by organisations or people that provide goods, facilities or services. Explains what you can do if you have been discriminated against and where you can get support and advice.

What are reasonable adjustments?

Reasonable adjustments are changes that organisations and people providing services or public functions have to make for you if your disability puts you at a disadvantage compared with others who are not disabled.

They have an anticipatory duty to make these reasonable adjustments. This means they must plan in advance to meet the access needs of disabled people.

For example, when organisations are making plans about how to provide their services or public functions, they need to think about people with mental health problems and how it will affect them access their service or public function. If you may have difficulty accessing the service or public function, the organisation has an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Real life example

The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for prosecuting cases investigated by police in England and Wales.

As part of its anticipatory duty, it has to consider what reasonable adjustments it should offer for people with mental health problems who are witnesses or victims of crime, who may find giving evidence in court particularly stressful.

It has a range of policies and procedures and practices to support witnesses and victims of crime who have mental health problems.

What kinds of reasonable adjustments can I ask for?

Any changes you ask for have to be reasonable, and you have to show that you are at a substantial disadvantage compared with other people because of your mental health problem.

If changes are reasonable for that organisation to make, then it must make them. Changes should make sure that you can use their services or public functions as closely as possible to the standard usually offered to people who do not have your mental health problem.

Examples of reasonable adjustments you could ask for include:

  • changing the times when events happen
  • changing the places where services are to be delivered
  • arranging for an advocate to support you
  • allowing more time for a face-to-face interview
  • offering clear written information.

Whether or not a change is reasonable will depend on:

  • the type of service/public function the organisation provides
  • the size of the organisation and what resources it has
  • the effect that making the change would actually have on your difficulties.

Example of reasonable adjustments

Sam has depression. He has difficulty in motivating himself to get up in the morning and to leave his home and he does not find it easy to speak in large meetings.

Sam's care coordinator is planning a Care Programme Approach meeting for him to review his mental health care and discusses this with him.

So that Sam can participate, his care coordinator makes sure that:

  • the meeting will take place in the afternoon
  • there will be not more than three other people at the meeting
  • Sam can bring an advocate with him.

These are all examples of reasonable adjustments.

Letter asking for reasonable adjustments

  • Download a draft letter to ask for reasonable adjustments from a GP surgery. (Word or PDF – new window)
  • Download a draft letter to ask for reasonable adjustments from the Department of Work and Pensions. (Word or PDF – new window)

This information was published in February 2018.

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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