Stress and Coping in IAPT Staff: a Mixed Methods Study


  • Elaine Walklet University of Worcester
  • Carol Percy Coventry University



Stress, Coping, IAPT, Mental health workers


Background: Research indicates NHS mental health workers have particularly high levels of stress. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is a new NHS mental health service with new ways of working. Aims: This exploratory study sought to investigate whether IAPT staff experience high levels of stress and, moreover, identify sources of stress and ways of coping. Method: A mixed methods design was utilised. Forty four IAPT workers completed a quantitative survey in which prevalence of stress (GHQ-12) and dispositional coping styles (COPE) were measured. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 6 staff and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Almost 30% of IAPT staff reached criteria for minor psychiatric morbidity. Identified stressors included high volume and target orientated work, constant change, resource issues, team dynamics, demands of high stakes in-service training, managing and holding distress and risk, and home-work conflict. Greater engagement in acceptance and active coping styles related to lower stress whereas focusing on and venting emotions related to higher stress. Conclusions: Stress is a significant issue for IAPT staff, with newly reported stressors including emphasis on targets and high stakes in-service training. Interventions aimed at promoting acceptance and active coping may be beneficial.

Author Biographies

Elaine Walklet, University of Worcester

Elaine Walklet is a Lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Worcester.

Carol Percy, Coventry University

Dr Carol Percy is a Senior Lecturer at Coventry University and course leader for the MSc Health Psychology.






Short Reports