TALKWORKS celebrates its 10th anniversary

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in Mental health, News on 10th September, 2019

Devon’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, TALKWORKS, turns ten today. This is a huge milestone for the service and something that we are excited to celebrate.

IAPT is a national programme that was initially rolled out in 2008 and has transformed the treatment of adult anxiety disorders and depression across England. IAPT is widely-recognised as the most ambitious programme of talking therapies in the world, and in the past year alone nearly 18,000 people in Devon accessed TALKWORKS for help to overcome their depression and anxiety, and better manage their mental health.

TALKWORKS – previously known as the Depression and Anxiety Service (DAS), launched across Devon in October 2009 with teams of around ten staff. These were made up of a Clinical Team Lead, a Business Administrator, two qualified Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs), two trainee PWPs, three qualified High Intensity Therapists and two trainee High Intensity Therapists. Fast forward ten years and the teams have almost tripled in size! They have seen approximately 127,095 people in this time.

Jezz Scott, a High Intensity Therapist in the Torbay team who has been with TALKWORKS from the very beginning said: “I started with Torbay team on day one, coincidentally on my 47th birthday. A great birthday present.
As a High Intensity Therapist, I have had the opportunity to help develop the team from scratch with few staff and no facilities or provisions into the busy, dynamic and well-resourced organisation it is today. I have also had the opportunity to develop my skills in CBT and latterly EMDR within a diverse population with a wide range of needs. This has proved to be immensely challenging at times, but also immensely rewarding. Ten years on, our remit has broadened, our targets have tightened and our challenges have continued, not least in maintaining our psychological rigour in a context of ongoing service pressures from within and without our own service. I have just completed my 26th year in adult mental health and feel that the past ten years have been a great decade for me career-wise. I see TALKWORKS continuing to offer people who use services and the staff within the service a high quality experience and long may it continue.”

The service has continually evolved over the last decade and has seen many changes. It has trained hundreds of Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP's) and many High intensity therapists. It has been one of the first implementers of delivering psychological interventions into physical care pathways, and recently the service name change from DAS to TALKWORKS. Since the launch of the new name in May the service has received 21,000 phone calls.

TALKWORKS remains committed to giving people the right tools to get their life back on track and better manage their mental health. And as it celebrates its tenth birthday, TALKWORKS is set to expand further and aims to treat an additional 6,000 people experiencing a common mental health problem by 2021. The increase in access will focus on people with a long term health condition, medically unexplained symptoms, older people, perinatal women, BME groups and other hard to reach groups.

Tim Vialls, a Senior PWP in the East and Mid team said: “I began working for TALKWORKS when formerly the Depression and Anxiety Service in 2010 and I moved from Norfolk to start the job. This was an exciting prospect as the service was relatively new then. I undertook training to qualify as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner and am now a Senior PWP within the East and Mid Devon team. Over the last nine years I have certainly noticed how the service has developed including more treatment options for patients and flexibility to engage with these and more career development options for PWP's which were more limited back in 2010.

I can confidently say that this is the most rewarding job I have undertaken in mental health, having worked in various statutory and voluntary sector services previously and different vocations. I think it is commendable that patients are able to access a psychological service with virtually no waiting list and which is free. I also believe that staff are committed to promoting a service that aims to reduce stigma.

Unless we live on a remote island, we will all know of people within our social circles who at some point struggle with their mental wellbeing and maybe we will ourselves. To know that there is a service that can try to and, in many cases, make a positive difference is something to be proud of."

Patients who have used the TALKWORKS service have said: “My therapist was fantastic and always entirely focused on giving me the best help and resources possible. They treated me with respect, dignity and kindness”.

“My therapist was kind, understanding, non-judgemental and very easy and approachable to open up to. She helped me to develop coping strategies and tools to use to manage my thoughts and worries and I am so glad to say that I feel much stronger and far more capable to handle my anxiety than before”.

TALKWORKS over the last ten years has kept fidelity to the evidence base and held integrity with its data reporting against targets. Sue Pike, Clinical and Service Manager said “I have been with the service since it started. I remember the chaos of the initial set up and have been part of the successes and also the challenges of delivering a high volume service, whilst ensuring it remains compassionate and focused on everyone as an individual who comes along to see us. I would acknowledge the excellent foundation set and contribution made by both David Jeffery and Ann Richards. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the service or supported us in any way over the last ten years”.

Here’s to the next ten!

Click here to watch the TALKWORKS promotional video. You can also follow TALKWORKS on Twitter @DPT_TALKWORKS.