Promoting wellbeing in the workforce: Yorkshire and the Humber Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner Network

Case study summary

Research studies have highlighted the importance of wellbeing within the psychological therapies profession. The Yorkshire and the Humber Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner Network is a dedicated forum for senior practitioners to share best practice, generate ideas and support the wider workforce towards improvements in service performance and quality of patient care.


The Yorkshire and the Humber Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) Network was established in October 2016 as part of the wider Yorkshire and the Humber Mental Health Clinical Network. Yorkshire and the Humber is a large and complex area, covering over 5,000 square miles. Its population is culturally diverse and the health care system includes 23 clinical commissioning groups, 14 acute hospital trusts, nine mental health trusts and 25 Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) providers.

The purpose of the network is to provide a dedicated forum for Senior PWPs in the region to come together to share best practice, generate innovative ideas, support the wider PWP workforce and work towards the improvement of service performance and quality of patient care.

Several recent research studies have highlighted the importance of wellbeing within the psychological profession. Wellbeing impacts on staff engagement, staff retention (particularly as the IAPT census report highlighted the significantly high turnover within Step 2 compared to High Intensity) and delivery of care.

The challenge for the network was to ensure that wellbeing within IAPT services – and in particular within the PWP workforce – received explicit consideration to ensure staff were supported and delivery of care was optimal. In our inaugural meeting we invited topic suggestions from members to inform the agenda for future meetings, and wellbeing was at the forefront. To address the issue of wellbeing we wanted to create meaningful discussions to encourage and inspire change and so themed a quarterly network meeting around wellbeing.

The network meeting began with a Diamond 9 exercise, which promotes discussion by encouraging attendees to consider what wellbeing is, why it is important, and ranking statements relating to wellbeing in order of importance. A member of the network presented the findings of a research study she had developed, as part of her Masters, on wellbeing within her IAPT service. The common themes impacting wellbeing, from a Northern PWP survey, were also presented and a group discussion took place to share best practice on wellbeing.

We collated some great examples of excellent work taking place within services to promote wellbeing which created a platform for others to build upon and initiate the promotion of wellbeing activities within their services:

  • creating wellbeing champions in services,
  • including wellbeing in supervision contracts,
  • creating time to reflect on positive practice in group supervision and
  • arranging a shared lunch with colleagues.

To ensure wellbeing remained at the top of the agenda for our Senior PWPs, at our next quarterly meeting we invited the National Workforce and Wellbeing Manager, Rebecca Minton, who was well received by the group. Having a national representative for wellbeing provided a great opportunity to communicate and share ideas.

By recognising the importance, value and impact of our focus on wellbeing, this is now a standing item on each network meeting agenda. We have a dedicated space to continue to share, update and reflect on wellbeing and members have been appreciative of this dedicated time and focus; advising that it assists them in ensuring wellbeing within their own services receives the attention it deserves.

We have also received qualitative feedback from members regarding the impact our focus on wellbeing has had for their service. Two of our members, Jenny Wilde and Sheryl Horton from East Riding Emotional Wellbeing Service (IAPT), said:

‘We have learned quite a lot from the network about how wellbeing is paramount in an IAPT service specifically. The network has helped us to understand the evidence base around high turnaround and burnout and also aids us in influencing wellbeing within a team, given that Senior PWPs lead the team of PWPs.

‘… In our service we are suggesting table top yoga, adding wellbeing to a clinical skills agenda as a standard item, bringing cakes, fruit to meetings and encouraging staff to take breaks away from their desks. Also we are asking staff what they think about wellbeing and how they would make changes. In meetings and clinical skills we start off with asking staff a positive/getting to know you question like “What is your claim to fame?”, “Have you got a joke?”, “What is your favourite film?”’

As well as the positive qualitative feedback the network has received, Senior PWPs are volunteering to present on their wellbeing initiatives – an exciting development which, it is hoped, will inspire others to follow in their footsteps of supporting workforce wellbeing within IAPT. The feedback on impact really does demonstrate the importance of taking ownership of an idea, providing leadership, sharing good practice and encouraging innovation in the area of wellbeing.

Wellbeing is a standing agenda item at every network meeting. Our next developments will focus on creating a robust evaluation of workforce wellbeing within the region by designing and using surveys with the workforce, and monitoring retention rates to really understand and evaluate the impact within services. We are also introducing modelling behaviours that could be adopted in services by undertaking a variety of wellbeing activities such as a mindfulness-based wellbeing activity at the beginning of every meeting. It is hoped this will encourage others to continue to promote wellbeing within the workforce.