Promoting staff wellbeing at Sheffield Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service

Case study summary

Sheffield Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) places great importance on workforce wellbeing. A range of training and social opportunities are provided to support staff and emphasise the importance of wellbeing among employees.



Sheffield IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service was launched in 2008 and exceeds over 12,000 people entering treatment each year to access treatment for anxiety or depression. Dedicated to working in partnership with other services to improve access, quality of care and patient experience, Sheffield IAPT has expanded with the development of a new Health and Wellbeing Team which manages 10 physical health care pathways. This new and exciting development has meant more job opportunities, with a growing workforce of approximately 180 people.

The challenge

With the recent expansion of the workforce, the addition of new starters and trainees and demand for the service, it is important the wellbeing of staff members as well as patients is considered. Recent studies and surveys have highlighted the importance of staff wellbeing which can impact on the quality of care delivered, staff engagement, job satisfaction and retention. Ensuring staff feel supported and that wellbeing in the workplace is being promoted is highly important.

How it worked

As a service a number of opportunities are put in place to support staff such as

  • quarterly IAPT masterclasses which provide regular and relevant continuing professional development to enhance learning and expertise,
  • profession-specific forums to promote sharing of best practice and networking with colleagues,
  • IAPT sports days and social gatherings,
  • top tips on how to look after yourself feature in a new starter handbook.

The most recent away day was dedicated to wellbeing. Speakers were invited to help staff reflect on their wellbeing and understand the different services available in the trust to provide support. The afternoon was made up of creative wellbeing activities – from African-inspired dance to Decopatch, Yoga, Mindful Leaf and stone-rubbing to singing and music workshops, all facilitated by talented and dedicated staff. Everyone had the opportunity to participate in two activities of their choice.


There was great feedback from the away day from all staff and here are some examples:

‘As a trainee, it came across as though the trust really values wellbeing. It’s good to know the options we can use as employees to help ourselves.’

‘I really enjoyed the activities – I did singing and yoga. I also enjoyed how relaxed I felt in yoga and am thinking about getting into meditation. I thought, ‘If I do this every day what a difference it could make to my outlook.’ The activities made me re-focus on prioritising my wellbeing as did the fact the service put them on as part of our away day. It shows the service values our wellbeing, as we do with our patients, as it helps manage stress.’

‘As counsellors we receive individual and group supervision which is highly valued both by me and my colleagues. There doesn’t seem to be a culture of overwork – we are expected to do our best in the time we have, which I appreciate. There are opportunities to meet and socialise as well as to bring wellbeing practices into work such as a summer walk before a team meeting or mindfulness practice.’

‘Working in the NHS can be stressful so it’s a great message to get out there that the wellbeing of our staff is important to us as a service. We don’t get chance to come together as a service very often and the wellbeing activities were a great way to connect with people that you might not see on a day-to-day basis. The African dancing was fab! Really enjoyed the day and felt great afterwards.’

‘A good reminder about resilience and the need for self-care and practising what we preach to others. It’s about self-care and was a perfect topic for the away day, knowing we can access services when needed.’

‘I think it is vital that we focus on wellbeing not just for clients but especially for staff and this away day addressed that. It shows the service does value wellbeing and this is supported by the amount of time allowed for supervision, masterclasses and so on.’

This great feedback really does highlight the importance of valuing wellbeing and has inspired senior team members to continue to promote this within the service.

What next?

Sheffield IAPT service is keen to connect with the wider trust to promote wellbeing initiatives while continuing to place wellbeing at the centre of its activities. At the away day the idea of champions was introduced to promote wellbeing within the service. There has been a lot of interest in the champion role and a number have been allocated within the service. The champions are planning to discuss and shape the role and really focus on how the service can continue to promote wellbeing. The aim is to gather feedback from staff to understand and evaluate the impact of the champion role and continue to put wellbeing at the heart of what the services does for patients and its workforce.

Heather Stonebank
Lead Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
Sheffield IAPT
Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust