A person I care about has problems with depression and anxiety and is starting a PhD soon. She has some questions I was not able to answer, so I was hoping you could give some advice. It is in a developed European country. I do not want to specify the country for fear of doxing her.
She was successful in her Bachelor's and Master's degree. She has had a job in her area the past more than a year and was also successful in it, with her boss being happy with her work. However, because of COVID, she has been on home office basically the whole time, allowing for a lot of flexibility. This has allowed her to not work when she was not feeling well and as long as the job got done, everyone was happy. It is the same story with the Master's studies, as long as she learned the things in time, that was sufficient. The flexibility has also made it much simpler to go to therapy, which is rather hard to get outside of standard working hours.
While it is possible that things will be good most of the time, there is a good chance she will need some accommodation at some point. She will also likely be starting using antidepressants and it is not clear what short-term effect that will have.
What is the best way of going about this? If we knew the supervisor and knew that they would be understanding, it seems like the way to deal with this would be to tell this professor. The university where she will be working has a disability office, so contacting them sounds like a good choice. Could the supervisor feel like we (she) is trying to go around him by not telling him first (he clearly shouldn't, but does it happen)? Do you think we should try to start discussing this with the university now, or is it better to wait until she officially starts? A third option would be to start resolving this when (if?) problems arise, but that does not sound smart.
Another thing we are worried about is what happens if there is something in her studies that causes her problems to get worse. Would it be reasonable to contact the disability office about that? For example, I would be worried about external pressure before paper deadlines. What is the best way of dealing with that?