IAPT services have accomplished a great deal since the Pathfinder sites for IAPT were asked in 2007 to address the needs of particular groups in the population – older people, children and young people, offenders, new mothers, black and minority ethnic communities, people with long term conditions or medically unexplained symptoms. As well as delivering the core service, Pathfinders aimed to identify positive benefits and address specific barriers to improving access to psychological therapies for particular sections of the community relevant to their local population. The intentions and learning from these Pathfinder sites was the basis for the development of the IAPT model, and many of the recommendations from the early Pathfinder sites are still relevant today.

There is a lot to celebrate from the first 10 years of IAPT services (2009-2019), including:

  • IAPT now sees over 1 million people each year nationally
  • Waiting times are much improved
  • Approximately, 7 of every 10 people (67%) who have a course of treatment (two or more sessions) show reliable and substantial reductions in their anxiety/depression.
  • Around 5 in every 10 (51%) improve so much they are classified as recovered.

For more on IAPT’s achievement and its future expansion, visit the IAPT at 10 webpage.

Despite the progress made, there remain a number of challenges facing IAPT services, including:

  • Addressing health inequalities, and meeting the needs of those most impacted by Covid-19, which has exacerbated existing inequalities in communities with lower socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Meeting increased access targets for IAPT and the increased demand predicted to arise from the impact of Covid-19 [further information is provided in the Covid section of these resources], whilst also undertaking outreach/engagement work with local communities and partners.
  • Adapting services to new local provider arrangements, for example Primary Care Networks and Integrated Care Systems.
  • Providing culturally sensitive services that meet the needs of London’s diverse communities.
  • Workforce recruitment and retention.

Please note additional barriers and challenges for IAPT services are set out within the ‘Challenges and barriers’ section here. Within these online resources, we provide guidance and examples where services have addressed some of these challenges. However, some can only be addressed locally, and others would require further discussion and action at either regional or national levels.