The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme began in 2008 and has transformed the treatment of adult anxiety disorders and depression in England. IAPT is widely-recognised as the most ambitious programme of talking therapies in the world and in the past year alone more than one million people accessed IAPT services for help to overcome their depression and anxiety, and better manage their mental health.
Plans set out in the NHS Long Term Plan build on the ambitions of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, and will see the number of people with anxiety disorders or depression who can access talking therapies through IAPT increase by an additional 380,000 per year to reach 1.9 million by 2023/24. Details of local IAPT services are available on the NHS website. The NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24 provides a new framework to ensure delivery, at the local level, on the commitment to pursue the most ambitious transformation of mental health care in England.
IAPT services are characterized by three things:
- Evidenced-based psychological therapies: with the therapy delivered by fully trained and accredited practitioners, matched to the mental health problem and its intensity and duration designed to optimize outcomes. From April 2018 all clinical commissioning groups are required to offer IAPT services integrated with physical healthcare pathways. The IAPT Pathway for People with Long-term Physical Health Conditions and Medically Unexplained Symptoms guidance is intended to help with implementation and sets out the ideal pathway for IAPT services.
- Routine outcome monitoring: so that the person having therapy and the clinician offering it have up-to-date information on an individual’s progress. This supports the development of a positive and shared approach to the goals of therapy and as this data is anonymized and published this promotes transparency in service performance encouraging improvement.
- Regular and outcomes focused supervision so practitioners are supported to continuously improve and deliver high quality care.
The priorities for service development are:
- Expanding services so that 1.9m adults access treatment each year by 2024.
- Focusing on people with long term conditions. Two thirds of people with a common mental health problem also have a long term physical health problem, greatly increasing the cost of their care by an average of 45% more than those without a mental health problem. By integrating IAPT services with physical health services the NHS can provide better support to this group of people and achieve better outcomes.
- Supporting people to find or stay in work. Good work contributes to good mental health, and IAPT services can better contribute to improved employment outcomes.
- Improving quality and people’s experience of services. Improving the numbers of people who recover, reducing geographic variation between services, and reducing inequalities in access and outcomes for particular population groups are all important aspects of the development of IAPT services.
The previous IAPT website is no longer updated – if you require any information or resources from this website, you can access an archived version on the National Archives website.
New IAPT Manual
Updated: August 2021
The IAPT Manual has been written to help commissioners, managers and clinicians expand their local IAPT services while maintaining quality and ensuring patients receive effective and compassionately delivered care. In his supporting blog, Professor David M Clark welcomes the manual as the definitive source of information on how to set-up and deliver excellent IAPT services.
Guidance on co-locating mental health therapists in primary care
Date: August 2018
Evidence suggests nine out of 10 adults with mental health problems are supported in primary care, and broadening the range of services means local health services are better equipped to deal with patients’ physical and mental health needs. New guidance from NHS England provides GPs, practice managers and commissioners with information, case studies and blogs on integrating mental health therapists into primary care. The guidance also identifies estate and financial issues that may need to be considered.